Inventory delivery still slow from West Coast

Did you notice Target's shoe department was out of stock on some items in recent months?

If so, you're a keen observer. Executives of the Minneapolis-based retailer nodded to the lighter inventories in shoes as one of the casualties of the West Coast ports slowdown earlier this year that resulted from a labor dispute. The labor issue has been resolved, but it took a while for the ports to work through a backlog of shipments.

Like a number of other retailers, Target grappled with the delays by ordering extra inventory and rerouting shipments to other ports.

Wal-Mart executives said this week that the gridlock at the ports delayed shipments of TVs to Sam's Club and Wal-Mart earlier this year.

Consulting firm Kurt Salmon said that the congestion at the West Coast ports could cost retailers as much as $7 billion this year.


Downtown apartment vacancy rate up

The epicenter of the Twin Cities apartment boom is finally showing some signs of softening. In downtown Minneapolis, the average vacancy rate was 8.8 percent in the first quarter, up from 5 percent last year, according to Marquette Advisors.

Across the 13-county metro area, the average vacancy rate remained stable at 2.7 percent.

The report shows that while the apartment boom in the region appears to have peaked, this will be another big year for projects. By the end of the year, 3,100 new units are expected. That's compared with 4,391 in 2014 and 2,763 in 2013.

In downtown alone, about 300 units came online during the first quarter and another 866 units are expected by the end of the year.

Despite all those new units, there's still upward pressure on rents. Across the metro area, the average rent was $1,018 compared with $1,000 a year ago. In downtown Minneapolis, average rent increased 6.8 percent to $1,493.


Mounds View team wins national contest

Four students from Mounds View High School went to the National Economics Challenge and came back with the national championship after defeating a team from Carmel, Ind.

Abraham Chen, Emily Ruan, Sam Rush and Jacob Weightman were coached by Martha Rush, a social studies and economics teacher at Mounds View High School.

The team took the title in the Adam Smith Division, for students in Advanced Placement or honors economics classes, on Monday in New York City. Each student received $1,000 in cash, not including the all-expenses-paid trip to New York.