business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that "big retailers are signaling they are nearly done paring back their excess inventories and are preparing to fill their shelves with new merchandise this fall, potentially brightening prospects for freight carriers looking for revived restocking to drive a shipping rebound.

"Target’s inventories at the end of the last quarter were 16% lower than the same period a year ago and Walmart cut inventories in its U.S. store operations by 9% over the past year, slashing hundreds of millions of dollars of goods from their balance sheets and suggesting space is opening up in their jammed supply chains."

Some context from the story:

"Walmart and Target were among scores of merchants that rushed goods into U.S. distribution networks in early 2022, with some even chartering their own ships to get around port backups and get goods to consumers. McMillon said at one point last year Walmart had 100,000 shipping containers backed up at ports, waiting for transport into the retailer’s domestic supply chain.

"U.S. consumers had boosted their purchases of goods during the Covid-19 pandemic as restrictions on many activities limited services spending. But a sharp pivot back toward services began last spring as those restrictions ended, leaving merchants’ warehouses overstuffed, and retailers pulled back on orders from overseas suppliers while they burned off excess inventory."