August Shipments Up and Holiday E-Commerce Numbers Look Promising

Sept. 17, 2013
E-commerce spending for 2013 expected to grow 16.4% over 2012.

Petroleum products and the shipments petroleum enables were up in August, and e-commerce is expected to show impressive growth over last year, according to the latest Logistics Market Snapshot, courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation. Specifically,

  • In August, petroleum products experienced more growth than any other commodity shipped by rail. Last month, carloads of petroleum products increased 18.5%, or 8,148 carloads, year-over-year.  However, China's use of petroleum is forecast to replace the U.S. as the world's biggest oil importer in the fall of 2013. (Source: US Energy Information Administration)      
  • Apple ships millions of iPhones by airto its own stores and other retail outlets where the handsets with go on sale simultaneously. Primarily the devices come to the U.S. using Boeing 777's.  The planes can carry about 450,000 iPhones and cost about $242,000 to charter, with fuel accounting for more than half of that expense.  (Source:, SJ Consulting Group)   
  • E-commerce spendingin the U.S. will increase about 15.1% year-over-year in November and December of this year, totaling $61.8 billion.  For 2013 as a whole, e-commerce spending is expected to grow 16.4% over 2012. Mobile commerce will gain a larger share of U.S. e-commerce sales this year as M-commerce will account for nearly 16%, or $41.68 billion, of the $262.3 billion that online shoppers are expected to spend this year in the U.S. (Source: eMarketer, U.S. Commerce Department).

Here’s a sector-by-sector logistics performance report:

Transportation Indexes:

• Dow Jones Transportation index rose 1.6% during the month of August. (Stock performance of twenty large, well-known U.S. companies in the transportation industry, average of August 10th thru September 10th)

• NASDAQ Transportation Index increased 2.1% in August. (Averaged share weights of NASDAQ-listed companies classified as transportation companies, average of August 10th thru September 10th)

• The USDOT's freight transportation services index rose 0.3% in July 2013. The index’s reading of 114.3 was up 2.4% from July 2012. (Source: US DOT)

• The August shipments index rose 1.7% over the previous month and fell 0.4% year-over-year. The August expenditures index fell 1.5% for the month, and increased 3.4% year-over-year. (Source: Cass Information Systems | (Based upon transportation dollars and shipments of Cass clients comprised of over 400 shipping companies)

Imports and Exports:

• In July, the U.S. imported about $228.6 billion of cargo. July U.S. imports rose 1.6% in terms of value from June, and rose 0.8% year-over-year. (Source: US Census)

• In July, the U.S. exported more than $189.4 billion of cargo. July U.S. exports have decreased 0.6% in terms of value over the previous month and rose 3.3% year-over-year. (Source: US Census) • U.S. import prices were unchanged in August. Import prices fell 0.4% over the past year. The price index for U.S. exports fell 0.5% in August. Export prices decreased 1.1% year-over-year. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)


• Railroad bulk carload freight in August 2013 remained the same from July 2013. Freight traffic in August rose 0.5% from August 2012. Carloads excluding coal and grain increased 3.6% over the previous year. (Source: includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units)

• Intermodal rail traffic in August 2013 was 4.4% higher than in August 2012 and 1.1% lower than July 2013 totals. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 45 straight months. (Source: includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units)


• The ATA’s seasonally adjusted cargo index fell 0.4% in July after rising 0.1% in June. The for-hire truck tonnage index rose 4.7% year-over-year. (Source: American Trucking Association |

• The spot market for truckload freight in August fell 1.8% compared to the previous month, and was 16% higher year-over-year. Truck capacity rose 0.3% for the month, and was up 3.2% year-over-year. (Source: DAT Trendlines |


• Global air freight traffic in July increased 1.2% from one year ago, and rose 0.5% from the previous month. North American air freight in July fell 1.1% year-over-year. (Source: (Global air freight covers international and domestic scheduled air traffic.)

• In July, the index of East-West air cargo rates remained the same from the previous month. The average price of air cargo leaving the United States in July stood at $3.06 per kilogram. (Source: Drewry) (The Drewry East-West Air Freight Price Index is based on the average of rates ($US per kg) for air freight services on 21 major East-West routes.)


• Import shipment volume at U.S. ports totaled 1.61 million TEUs in August, the 2nd highest monthly volume since July 2007. U.S. vessel imports decreased 5% from the previous month and rose .5% year-over-year. (Source: Zepol Corporation |


• The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 8.4% during Q2 2013, down from 8.6% in the previous quarter. (Source: Newmark Grubb Knight Frank)

• In Q2 2013, warehouse and distribution rental rates in the US averaged $5.22 per square foot, up from $5.21/SF in the previous quarter. (Source: Newmark Grubb Knight Frank);


• The unemployment rate in America decreased to 7.3% in August 2013 as there were 169,000 net new jobs.The August unemployment rate was the lowest since November 2008. However, the labor forceparticipation rate fell to 63.2% in August, its lowest level since 1978. (Source: US DOL)

• Trucking industry employment remained flatin August after posting a gain of 6,300 in July. The trucking workforce increased 1.9% over the previous year. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Purchasing Managers Index:

• The National PMI rose 0.3 of a point to 55.7 in August 2013, the highest level since June 2011. New orders rose 4.9 points to 63.2 and production decreased 2.6 points to 62.4. (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.)