Economic gains are sometimes more of a concept than reality

Not long ago, we heard a lot about an improving housing market and automotive sales on the rise, which clearly both bode well for economic growth. Both these developments are still occurring, which is great, but it is still not close to being good enough, is it?

By ·

Here we go again. Actually, we may have never truly stopped. These sentiments speak to the always changing (but not really…) nature of the economy.

Not long ago, we heard a lot about an improving housing market and automotive sales on the rise, which clearly both bode well for economic growth. Both these developments are still occurring, which is great, but it is still not close to being good enough, is it?

I say this, because it is occurring against the backdrop of a still-largely confusing economic outlook in many different ways, including unemployment, fluctuating consumer confidence (a metric which many have less than great faith in), too low GDP, and, not to be forgotten or overlooked, our friends in Congress doing less than nothing more often than not. Perhaps that is the “new normal” sadly enough.

What’s more, the headlines are not all that encouraging either. Consider this one from The New York Times last week: “Gloomy retailers stir new doubts on economy.”

The headline nearly tells the story itself. In short, it explains that many, or most, United States consumers are only spending money on essential items, especially true for lower income ones.

What’s more, it also highlighted how upper income consumers are also relatively quiet, when it comes to making purchases. And as things stand, the article observed that back to school sales may not provide the spark truly needed to bring about a sea change in demand or improved sales.

Not too many people know this better than logistics and freight transportation services providers whom likely know more about demand planning than most.

This has been evident when talking supply chain executives, too.

Most note that things have not changed materially in the last year or more, given that every time it “seems” like things are turning the corner, they flatten out and bring it all back to right where we are. After five years or so of this, I am pretty sure we all know the drill.

I don’t want to sound so sour about all of this, but facts are facts. We are nearly into September and people are still waiting for that spark to get things going and get the economy truly back into gear.

It is going to take more than words for that to happen, but with so many people struggling to make ends meet, chances are something “big” is likely to occur later than soon, it seems.

Shippers are clearly wise to this premise, too, considering that many are trading down modes to get the most bang for their buck. And who can blame them with demand still very flat?

In the meantime, 3PLs and carriers continue to strive to create value for their customers. This is happening though inventory management, cloud computing, dedicated trucking and many other things, too.

As mentioned in this space before, soft economies are a great time to retool and keep learning. That might be the top scheme in the play book again, at least until things finally pick up for real.

 


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Supply Chain Visibility: Illuminating the Path to Responsive, Agile Operations
Supply chain visibility is not an end, but a tool. It is the means to achieving true supply chain effectiveness, agility and ultimately, corporate profitability.
Download Today!
From the December 2017 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
Trade and transport analysts see rates rising across all modes in accordance with continued expansion of domestic and international markets. Economists, meanwhile, say shippers can expect revenue growth in transport verticals to remain in the 3%-plus range.
2018 Customs & Regulations Update:10 observations on the “digital trade transformation”
Moore on Pricing: Freight settlement and your TMS
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2018 Rate Forecast
Join our panel of top oil and transportation analysts for an exclusive look at where rates are headed and the issues driving those rate increases over the coming year.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2018 Rate Outlook: Economic Expansion, Pushing Rates Skyward
Trade and transport analysts see rates rising across all modes in accordance with continued...
Building the NextGen Supply Chain: Keeping pace with the digital economy
Peerless Media’s 2017 Virtual Summit shows how creating a data-rich ecosystem can eliminate...

2017 NASSTRAC Shipper of the Year: Mallinckrodt; Mastering and managing complexity
An inside look at how a large pharmaceutical firm transformed its vendor and supplier relationships...
2017 Alliance Awards: Recognizing outstanding supply chain partnerships
In an era where effective supply chain collaboration is both highly valued and elusive, Logistics...