Shoppers Add to Third Quarter’s 2.7% GDP Rise

The retail sector shows health for the holidays.

The final weeks of the Holiday season bring some encouraging economic statistics:

• The U.S. GDP increased 2.7% in the third quarter of 2012 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. (Source: US BEA);

• A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites to make purchases over the Black Friday sales weekend. The number of shoppers was up 9% from the 226 million who shopped last year. Total spending over the four-day weekend reached a record $59.1 billion, a 13% increase over last year.  (Source: NRF);

• Black Friday online sales increased 28% year-over-year and surpassed $1 billion for the first time. Cyber Monday became the heaviest online spending day on record at $1.46 billion, a 17% increase over last year.  (Source: comScore, Inc.)

• FedEx shipped more than 19 million packages on Monday, December 10, making it the single busiest shipping day in company history.  UPS expects its own peak shipping day on December 20, when more than 28 million packages will be delivered.  In the next week, UPS expects to deliver 135 million packages of the 527 million it forecasted for the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The following highlights of other key logistics numbers come from the Logistics Market Snapshot, courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation:

Transportation Indexes:

• The Dow Jones Transportation index rose 3.3% 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 1.1% 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 1.9% in October 2012. The index’s reading of 107.1 was 1.6% lower year-over-year. (Source: US DOT);

• The November shipments index fell 4% over the previous month and rose 3.5% year-over-year. The October expenditures index decreased 5.8% for the month, and increased 3.3% 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 October, the U.S. imported about $222.8 billion of cargo. October U.S. imports have decreased 2.1% in terms of value from September, and remained flat year-over-year. (Source: US Census);

• In October, the U.S. exported more than $180.5 billion of cargo, the lowest amount since April 2011. October U.S. exports have decreased 3.6% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 1% yearover-year. (Source: US Census);

• U.S. import prices fell 0.9% in November. Import prices fell 1.6% over the past year. The price index for U.S. exports fell 0.7% in November. Export prices increased 0.7% year-over-year. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).


• The unemployment rate in America fell to 7.7% in November 2012 as there were 146,000 net new jobs, up from the revised 138,000 new jobs created in October. (Source: US DOL);

• The trucking industry added 2,500 jobs in November. The trucking workforce increased 0.18% over the previous month and rose 3.6% over the previous year. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).


• Railroad bulk carload freight in November 2012 rose 2.9% from October 2012. Freight traffic in November fell 4% from November 2011. Carloads excluding coal and grain increased 5.5% over the previous year. (Source: (Report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units);

• Intermodal rail traffic in November 2012 was 1.2% higher than in November 2011 and 0.1% higher than October 2012 totals. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 36 straight months. (Source: (Report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units).


• The ATA’s seasonally adjusted cargo index fell 3.8% in October after falling 0.4% in September. The for-hire truck tonnage index fell 2.1% year-over-year, the first year-over-year decrease since November 2009. (Source: American Trucking Association |;

• The spot market for truckload freight in November rose 5.7% compared to the previous month, and was 1.2% lower year-over-year. Truck capacity fell 13% for the month, and was up 19% year-over-year. (Source: TransCore Freight Index |


• In October, the average international air cargo rate was $3.99 per kilogram, rising 11.9% from the previous month. Average air freight rates were down 13.4% year-over-year. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics) (The Drewry Air Freight Price Index is based on the average of rates ($US per kg) for cargoes of 100+kg to 1,000+kg cargoes from Shanghai to London, Moscow, Prague, New York, and Los Angeles.)


• Import shipment volume, in TEUs, at U.S. ports decreased 12.8% in November from the previous month and fell 15.2% over the previous year. (While it is unique to see imports so low in November, this can be partially attributed to Hurricane Sandy and the labor strikes on the west coast) (Source: Zepol Corporation |


• The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 9% during Q3 2012, down from 9.3% in the previous quarter. Overall vacancy was 9.9% in Atlanta and 12.4% in Savannah during the third quarter. (Source: Cushman & Wakefield)

Consumer Confidence Index:

The Consumer Confidence Index increased to 73.7 in November 2012 from 73.1 in October 2012. (Source: The Conference Board) (The consumer confidence index is based on a monthly survey of 5,000 U.S. households. It is designed to gauge the financial health, spending power, and confidence of the average U.S. consumer.)


TAGS: Warehousing
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