Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


January retail sales head in the right direction, according to Commerce and NRF

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
February 14, 2012

Coming off of the holiday shopping season, January retail sales turned in positive performances and showed signs of slow but continuing economic improvement, according to data from the United States Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The Department of Commerce reported that January retail sales at $401.4 billion were up 0.4 percent from December and up 5.8 percent compared to January 2011. Commerce added that total sales for the November through January period were up 6.3 percent from the same period a year ago. When excluding autos, January retail sales were up 0.7 percent over January.

The NRF reported that January retail sales, which exclude autos, gas stations, and restaurants, were up 0.9 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis from December and up 4.0 percent on an unadjusted basis annually.

“A slightly improving labor market with gains in payrolls has lifted consumer confidence in January and corresponds with increasing retail sales,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz in a statement. “However consumer spending alone will not be enough to sustain economic growth or provide a strong foundation for consistent retail sales and growth. We must see improvements in key economic indicators, such as housing and employment.”

Even though retail sales continue to show slow and incremental growth, continued growth is needed over a longer period, as consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

But even though retail growth is on the slow side, there are some indications that the economy is showing some true signs of recovery, including positive employment reports in recent months and increasing consumer confidence, too.

What’s more, there are signs of a pick-up in freight volumes, too, with steady increases on the railroad and intermodal side, as well as upticks in the trucking market, too, according to the American Trucking Associations most recent truck tonnage report and the Cass Freight Index.

The trend of slight or flat sequential retail sales increases remains largely intact due to fairly even retail spending at a time when retailers remain cautious on the inventory planning side and postponing commitments until the until the economic outlook becomes clearer, while they are risking stock outages by having very lean inventories.

While retail sales are growing slightly, they are not providing enough of a bump to signal a material increase in economic output.

A noted freight transportation expert told LM that the gains in retail sales are welcome, but more work needs to be done.

“Slow like the tortoise, we make impressive gains over two-year ago levels,” said Charles “Chuck” Clowdis, Managing Director, North America Global Commerce & Transport Advisory Services, at IHS Global Insight. “Fuel prices ‘fuel’ a large part of the gains however. Nevertheless, cautious optimism prevails. Let’s see if we can put a few consecutive gains together before we pop the Champagne.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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!

Recent Entries

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in July headed up 1.3 percent on the heels of a 0.8 percent increase in June. The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was 133.3 in July, which outpaced June’s 132.3 by 0.8 percent, and was up 2.8 percent annually.

Volumes for the month of July at the Port of Long Beach (POLB) and the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) were mixed, according to data recently issued by the ports. Unlike May and June, which saw higher than usual seasonal volumes, due to the West Coast port labor situation, July was down as retailers had completed filling inventories for back-to-school shopping.

With a 0.8 cent decrease, this week’s average price per gallon is $3.835 and stands as the lowest price since hitting $3.844 the week of November 25, 2013.

LTL carriers are rapidly investing in expensive, on-dock, three-dimensional size measurement capturing machinery, and they are hoping one day of being able to more accurately charge shippers rates based on the actual dimensions of their shipments, rather than the traditional weight-and-distance-based formula that has been in effect since the 1930s or even earlier.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) dipped 0.9 percent from May to June.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA