As of the end of last year, truck tonnage rose to the largest annual gain in two decades. A deeper dive into this record high allowed analysts to gain more insight on suspected trends in the trucking industry and the economy as a whole.
Confirmation of a Shift to E-Commerce
A lot of truck tonnage was attributed to shippers getting ahead of tariffs by accelerating their seasonal schedules. However, outside of that boost, a good segment of the total truck tonnage accounted for a large number of consumers making purchases online. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and automobile dealerships still require physical locations for people to purchase goods, but everything else is shifting. Analysts started to suspect more people were making purchases online, but the report from last year confirms it. Electronics, clothing, furniture, and more were by and large purchased by consumers online. Even businesses are ordering supplies and materials online, as well as using vendors online to make their purchases. As we become more connected and mobile devices get more advanced, expect this trend to continue well into the future.
Truck Tonnage Was High in October
Last year, October saw higher tonnage than November and December. Again, accelerated shipping schedules due to impending tariffs were part of the cause. Despite initial speculation, the slowdown from the end of last year that is carrying over into 2019 is not an indication of a downturn in the economy. With shippers being ahead of schedule by an entire season, slower growth and less tonnage was expected. Additionally, shippers and carriers are communicating better to optimize capacity loads and make supply chains more efficient across the board. So while tonnage may not be extremely high for the first half of 2019, we can still expect growth to occur throughout the trucking industry.
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