Consumers Keep Economy’s Numbers Up

Consumers are keeping the economy healthy through the holidays, according to a Logistics Market Report fromthe Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics. The report notes that the consumer confidence index increased to 56 in November 2011 from 40.9 in October 2011—its highest levelin four months. It was also the highest month-to-month increase since April 2003.

These numbers were backed up by the fact consumers spent an estimated $52 billion during the holiday shopping rush, up 16.4% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF says a combined 226 million people visited brick-and-mortar and online stores during the four-day Black Friday shopping window, an increase of 14 million shoppers over last year. On “Cyber Monday” shoppers spent a record $1.25 billion online—a 22% increase over last year. This made it the heaviest U.S. online spending day in history and only the second time the U.S. has ever spent more than $1 billion online in a single day.

The National Purchasing Management Index increased 1.9 pointsto 52.7 in November 2011, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 28th consecutive month. New orders increased 4.3 pointsto 56.7 and production increased 6.5 points to 56.6, according to the Institute for Supply Management. (A reading above 50 indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.)

The U.S. GDP increased 2.0%in the third quarter 2011 according to the second preliminary estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Consumer confidence seems to be supported by the most recent logistics numbers as well. The Dow Jones Transportation index was up 3.7%during the month of November. The NASDAQ Transportation Index was up 1.6%in November. And although the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s freight transportation services index fell 0.2%in October 2011 from the previous month, the index is up 4%year-over-year.

Over-the-Road Trucked Shipments rose 0.1%in November following a 1.1% increase in October. And although overall trucked shipments only increased 0.9%on a year-over-year basis, according to www.Ceridianindex.com, and the spot market for truckload freight in November fell 1.9%compared to the previous month, it was 55% higheryear-over-year. Truck capacity rose 3.3%for the month, and was up 18%from November 2010, according to the TransCore Freight Index (www.transcorefreightsolutions.com).

The trucking industry added 3,600 jobsin November. The trucking workforce increased 0.28%over the previous month and rose 2.7%over the previous year, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Railroad bulk carload freight in November 2011 increased 0.9%over October 2011. Freight traffic in November also increased 2.3%over November 2010, and was up 7.6%over November 2009, according to www.AAR.org. The site also shows that intermodal rail traffic in November 2011 was 3.8% higherthan November 2010, and 0.8% higherthan October 2011 totals. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 24 straight months.

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