Morning Business Memo:
The strike that threatened a holiday-gift shortage is over. The end of the eight-day walkout at the giant port complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach is welcome news for retailers. Clerical workers and longshoremen at America’s largest port will return to work today after a strike that prevented shippers from delivering billions of dollars in cargo to stores and other businesses across the country. The National Retail Federation had called for President Obama to intervene in the strike, saying most of its members have been affected. Los Angeles and Long Beach account for about 40percent of all container cargo shipped to the United States, most of it from Asia. Several billion dollars worth of goods have been left to sit on the docks. More than 90 percent of toys sold in stores is made in China and other Asian nations.
It could be a deal many FedEx workers can’t refuse. Many employees at the world’s second-largest package delivery company will be offered up to 2 years pay to leave the company, starting next year. The voluntary layoff program at FedEx is part of an effort to cut costs by $1.7 billion a year. The changes are in response to a customer shift away from premium package-delivery services to slower less expensive forms of shipping.
Netflix has beat out pay TV channels, grabbing the video rights to show Disney movies soon after they finish their runs in theaters. The multiyear licensing deal is a breakthrough for Netflix, which has been working to add additional recent movies to its streaming video service. Netflix will have exclusive U.S. rights to offer the first-run movies through its streaming service during the period normally reserved for premium TV networks such as HBO, Starz and Showtime. That period starts about seven months after movies leave theaters. The exclusivity does not extend to DVDs, a service Netflix is trying to phase out.
Amazon is offering Kindles for kids. The subscription service for games, videos and books is aimed at children using Kindle Fire tablets. The price is $4.99 per child each month. Parents can set up profiles for each child so that kids can browse “age-appropriate products” without being shown ads or accessing the Internet.
Don’t ask us why but, apparently, KFC “is wildly popular in Japan, particularly during the Christmas season”. Japan Airlines issued a press release announcing that during the holidays, customers traveling in premium-economy and economy classes on flights to the United States and Europe will be served KFC’s Original Recipe two-piece chicken meal. That includes one drumstick, a chicken breast fillet and bread. The airline says “This year end, JAL and KFC will bring customers a festive cheer onboard with the original Air Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc