Supply Chain by the Numbers

- July 19, 2019 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for July 19, 2019

IKEA Closing US Factory; Retail Sales Surprisingly Strong; Amazon Workers in Minneapolis and Germany Strike; the Real Cause of Global Warming?



That's how many jobs will be lost when furniture retailer IKEA shutters its only US factory in December, the company announced this week. The Danville, Va., facility opened in 2008, produces wooden shelves and storage units sold in IKEA stores in the US and Canada. But IKEA says aid shifting the work to Europe and importing the goods will reduce its costs. The company highlighted the cost of raw materials in Danville as a significant factor in its decision. "We made every effort to improve and maintain the competitiveness of this plant, but unfortunately the right cost conditions are not in place to continue production in Danville, Va., for the long-term," Bert Eades, the plant's site manager, said in a written statement. The Swedish company runs more than 40 production facilities in Europe, China and Russia.



That was the rise in US retail sales in June versus 2018, according to data from the Commerce Dept. this week. June retail sales were also up a strong 0.4% versus May, indicating there is perhaps more activity in the US economy than other signals have been indicating. Total retail sales from April through June up also 3.4% on an annual basis. So-called "non-store" retailers, largely comprised of ecommerce merchants, saw a strong 13.4% annual jump in the month. Separately, the National Retail Federation reported that June retail sales were up 0.6% in June on a seasonally-adjusted basis compared to May, and up 2.3% annually on an unadjusted basis. NRF's retail sales figures do not include automotive dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. The three-month moving average through June was up 3.7% annually, ahead of May's 3.3% three-month moving average.



That's about how many workers were standing outside an Amazon Fulfillment Center near Minneapolis on Monday, apparently involved in a six hour "strike" meant to hit the retailer on its two-day Prime Day sale, which also began on Monday. It is not clear if additional workers went on strike at the 3 PM time promised but didn't congregate with the others. The relatively small group periodically chanted "Amazon, hear our voice!" and "We work, we sweat, Amazon workers need a rest!" And some Seattle headquarters tech employees were also said to be attending the strike in solidarity, according to a statement from the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. Meanwhile, a more substantive 2000 Amazon FC workers across several facilities in Germany also walked out for some hours on Prime Day, though without mjuch effect. Both groups are protesting wage rates and just as prominently working conditions at Amazon. Amazon in turn said the protestors were "conjuring misinformation," and claimed that anyone attending the event was uninformed.



That is by how much the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPCC) has overestimated the impact of man-caused global warming. That according to a new research paper from Jyrki Kauppinen and Pekka Malmi, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Turku in Finland. Global warming is real, the researchers say, but the real casual factor is somehow lower cloud levels, created in turn by increasing cosmic rays reaching earth due to changes in the earth's magnetic field. Before you scoff, note another recent paper authored by scientists from Japan comes to largely the same conclusion. Of course, the new paper has been criticized for not being peer reviewed, while other climate scientists have refuted the conclusions reached by Kauppinen and Malmi. But the pair say that their research shows that "anthropogenic [man-made] climate change does not exist in practice."

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