Strong Retail Numbers Lead Bright Year-End Logistics Picture

Even warehousing in Detroit hit the largest drop in warehousing vacancy in four quarters.

Retail sales numbers started the holiday season strong, with Black Friday hitting the billion-dollar mark for online shopping for the first time this year. This represents a 15% increase to $1.20 billion, as more consumers opted to shop from home, according to ComScore. This leads a series of positive transportation and distribution trends, courtesy of the Logistics Market Snapshot, from the Georgia Center of Innovation. Other highlights from this report:

Transportation Indexes:

• Dow Jones Transportation index rose 3% during the month of November. (Stock performance of twenty large, well-known U.S. companies in the transportation industry, average of Nov. 10th  thru Dec. 10th

• NASDAQ Transportation Index increased 2.9% in November. (Averaged share weights of NASDAQ-listed companies classified as transportation companies, average of Nov. 10th  thru Dec. 10th)

• The USDOT's freight transportation services index fell 0.7% in October 2013. The index’s reading of 114.3 was up 5.3% from October 2012. (Source: US DOT)

• The November shipments index fell 1% over the previous month and rose 1.1% year-over-year. The November expenditures index rose 0.6% for the month, and increased 7.8% year-over-year. (Source: Cass Information Systems | Cassinfo.com) (Based upon transportation dollars and shipments of Cass clients comprised of over 400 shipping companies)

Rail:

• Railroad bulk carload freight in November 2013 rose 2.1% from October 2013. Freight traffic in November rose 1.3% from November 2012, the fourth consecutive year-over-year increase. Carloads excluding coal and grain increased 5.3% over the previous year. (Source: AAR.org) (Report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units)

• Intermodal rail traffic in November 2013 was 7.8% higher than in November 2012, and rose 0.7% from October 2013. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 47 straight months. (Source: AAR.org) (Report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units)

Trucking:

• The ATA’s seasonally adjusted cargo index fell 2.8% in October, decreasing for the first time since July. The for-hire truck tonnage index rose 8% from October 2012, the largest year-over-year gain since December 2011. (Source: American Trucking Association | Trucking.org)

• The spot market for truckload freight in November fell 10% compared to the previous month, and was 11% higher year-over-year. Truck capacity fell 12% for the month, and was up 5.3% year-over-year. (Source: DAT Trendlines | www.dat.com)

Air:

• Global air freight traffic in October increased 4% from one year ago, and rose 1.3% over the previous month. North American air freight in October rose 3.7% year-over-year. (Source: IATA.org) (Global air freight covers international and domestic scheduled air traffic.)

• International airfreight volumes will grow 17% over the next five years. By 2017, the five largest international freight markets will be the U.S., China, Germany, Hong Kong, and the UAE. The U.S. and China are likely to add more than 1 million additional tons each over the forecast period; as a result, China is expected to replace Germany as the second largest airfreight market in 2017. (Source: IATA.org)

Ocean Freight:

• Import shipment volume at U.S. ports totaled 1.64 million TEUs in September. U.S. vessel imports increased 2% from the previous month and rose 7% year-over-year. (Source: Zepol Corporation | zepol.com)

• Import volume through major U.S. container ports is expected to increase 1.8% in December. In October, the latest month for which numbers are available, U.S. container ports handled 1.43 million TEUs, a 0.4% decrease over the previous month and a 6.4% increase over the same month last year. Total U.S. containerized imports are expected to increase 2.3% in 2013. (Source: NRF/Hackett Associates)

Warehousing:

• The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 8.1% during Q3 2013, down from 8.3% in the previous quarter. Overall vacancy was 12% in Atlanta during the third quarter. Interestingly enough, Detroit has posted the largest drop in vacancy over the past four quarters, falling from 12.3% to 10.2% at the end of Q3 2013. (Source: Newmark Grubb Knight Frank)

• In Q3 2013, warehouse and distribution rental rates in the U.S. averaged $5.27 per square foot, up from $5.25/SF in the previous quarter. (Source: Newmark Grubb Knight Frank)

Employment

• The unemployment rate in America decreased to 7.0% in November 2013 as there were 203,000 net new jobs. About 762,000 people left the labor force during the month. The labor force participation rate rose slightly to 63% in November. (Source: US DOL)

• The trucking industry gained 8,400 jobs in November after posting a gain of 800 in October. The trucking workforce increased 2.1% over the previous year. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) 

Purchasing Managers Index:

• The National PMI rose 0.9 of a point to 57.3 in November 2013, the highest level since April 2011. New orders rose 3 points to 63.6 and production increased 2 points to 62.8. (Source: Institute for Supply Management) (The PMI combines data on new orders, inventory, production, supplier deliveries, and employment. A reading above 50 indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.)

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