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First Sale Review
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Macy's to Cut 2300 Jobs
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Online Shopping Still Growing
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The American Red Cross

  February 15, 2008                                        Issue #211


14/24

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First Sale Rule
Companies have until 23 April to voice their opinions on proposals for a customs rule change that could cost US businesses and consumers millions of dollars. 
On February 7, the US Customs and Border Protection extended by 30 days the public comment period on its plans to eliminate the 'First Sale Rule', which is a popular, cost-saving import valuation methodology.
Concerned parties now have until April 23, to lodge their complaints. Customs first announced its intention to revoke the First Sale Rule on January 28, and since then a coalition of industry associations has been set up to try to prevent the change from taking place.
The current First Sale Rule allows a company to base the value of an imported finished-good, for purposes of determining the duty rate, on the cost of the product at the first sale in the supply chain, rather than the value at the point of importation. 
This lawful, common method of valuation is utilized by businesses across the spectrum, and saves them millions of dollars. 
If the Rule is abolished, it is likely that the increased cost of doing business will be passed on to consumers with inflationary retail costs. 
Peter J Gabbe, chairman of the board of directors for the American Apparel & Footwear Association, points out that the 30-day extension "allows additional time for interested parties to calculate the true cost of such a broad proposal."
But he adds: "At a time when intense concern over the economy is generating pressure on all levels, from manufacturing to the consumer, I am hard-pressed to understand why the government would impose a tax where one didn't already exist."

                

  A model wears an item by Shirley of Hollywood during
the International Lingerie Fashion Show at the Rio in Las 
Vegas October 1st.  Photo by Jerome Hamilton



10/24   

Macy's Cut 2,300 Jobs
Department store operator Macy’s Inc is to cut 2,300 management jobs as part of a restructuring that will see it consolidate into three divisions in an attempt to reduce costs and offset falling sales.
By merging Minneapolis-based Macy's North into New York-based Macy's East, its St. Louis-based Macy's Midwest division into Atlanta-based Macy's South, and its Seattle-based Macy's Northwest into San Francisco-based Macy's West, the company hopes to focus more effectively on local markets. 
The Atlanta-based division will be renamed Macy's Central and all current store locations will remain in place.
"Improving sales and earnings performance requires innovation in engaging our customer more effectively in every store, as well as reducing total costs," said Terry J Lundgren, Macy's chairman, president and chief executive officer. 
He added that the company intends to "drive sales growth by improving our knowledge at the local level and then acting quickly on that knowledge."
The plan follows on from the success of an initiative, called 'My Macy's,' trialed over the past year, to make sure customers near each Macy's store could find merchandise and size ranges tailored to their needs.
Under the new set-up, Macy's locations will now be grouped into 20 'districts' of about 10 stores - compared with an average of 16 to 18 currently overseen by each regional manger.
Districts will be based in cities including Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Portland, St Louis, Salt Lake City and Seattle. 
Each new district will have a manager and a small staff of store merchandisers and planners. These districts will report into their divisions through new regional offices being established in Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Seattle.
New systems and technology are also being rolled out in 2008 for store-level assortment planning, allowing merchants to stock each Macy's store with items, brands, garment sizes and colors tailored to local customers.
The company said its Miami-based Macy's Florida and New-York based Bloomingdale's divisions are not affected by the changes.
The job losses were unveiled as Macy's reported a 7.1% fall in same-store January sales, which it blamed on a lower number of trading days compared with the same period last year.
The consolidation process is expected to reduce Macy's SG&A (selling, general and administrative) expenses by approximately $100m, beginning in 2009. The partial-year reduction in SG&A for 2008 is estimated at $60m.
However, the changes will also incur one-time pre-tax charges of $150m in 2008.



7/24              Photographed by Lawrence O. Brown

Uzbekistan's Cotton Ban 
to Affect Garment Trade
Bangladeshi manufacturers have been left fretting about garment exports as a result of major retail customers threatening to ban cotton from Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan, at present subject to allegations of child labor for the production of cotton, supplies 65% of Bangladesh's cotton, according to a report.
Tesco, H&M and M&S, the retailers linked with a boycott, represent $700m worth of garment trade for Bangladesh, the country's Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said.
Earlier this month Tesco confirmed it was boycotting the use of cotton from Uzbekistan in all of its clothing and textile products, following allegations by The Environmental Justice Foundation that Uzbek cotton production uses state-sponsored child labor.


12/12

Online Shopping Still Growing
Clothing, shoes and accessories make up the fastest-growing segment of the global online shopping industry and are now second only to books among the most popular goods bought on the internet, new research says. 
According to the latest figures from Nielsen's Global Online Survey, 36% of consumers with access to the internet have bought clothes, footwear or accessories online in the past three months - nearly double the figure of two years ago (20%). 
That compares to figures of 41% for books, 24% for videos/DVDs/games and for airline tickets, and 23% for electronic equipment. 
In the US, clothing is the most popular online trading sector, with 41% buying something in the past month, ahead of books (38%) and videos/DVDs/games at 33%. 
In Germany, 55% have bought books in the past three months, while the figure for clothing is 42%. In the UK, the figures are 45% and 38% respectively. 
The survey of more than 26,000 internet users around the world found that the most popular apparel sites were, in descending order: eBay, mail order firm LL Bean, Victoria's Secret, and footwear and accessories specialist Zappos.com. 
According to Nielsen, more than 85% of the world's internet users have made at least one online purchase, increasing the total market for online shopping by 40% in the last two years. 
More than half of people have made a purchase in the past month. 
Among internet users, the highest percentage shopping online is in South Korea (99%), followed by the UK, Germany and Japan (all 97%). 
The US lies eighth at 94%. 


2/3           
Heat Tolerant Cotton Plants
Researchers from the US' Agricultural Research Service have combined with large American cotton producer Cotton Incorporated to breed heat-tolerant plants that can withstand extreme temperatures and produce quality fibers.
At the moment, Pima plants are used to make the long, strong fibers needed for luxury cotton goods, but their health declines when exposed to temperatures of 28 degrees or more. 
This is a serious problem given the high summer temperatures of most cotton growing areas worldwide.
However, the ARS Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center in College Station, Texas, and Cotton Incorporated, have created three new upland cotton varieties can be easily cultivated at much higher temperatures. 
Around 25 commercial seed companies and cotton plant breeders have now invested in the new variety for further development, working with university scientists in Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana and California.
A note from the Agricultural Research Service said: "Producers want easy-to-manufacture textiles. And growers want hardy, thriving plants."
  
 
                            
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