Looking back at the first half of 2010

With the first half of the year officially in the books, now is a good time to assess how things are going in the supply chain/logistics/freight transportation sectors.

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With the first half of the year officially in the books, now is a good time to assess how things are going in the supply chain/logistics/freight transportation sectors.

Let me start by overstating the obvious: based on pretty much every metric out there volumes are up across all modes on an annual basis when compared to a dismal 2009. We have also seen solid sequential growth to a large degree. But these growth numbers by no means portend that all is rosy.

In fact, in recent weeks we are seeing some signs that the second half of 2010 may not be as strong as the first half.

Among these signs are an ostensible slowing down of retail sales in May (the most recent month for which data is available), a disappointing Consumer Confidence report earlier this week, and last week’s report from the Commerce Department that durable goods orders are down. And jobs have not come back at the pace the White House had hoped.

Even with these warning signs, there remains an overall feeling of “cautious optimism” (a cliché to be certain, I know and apologize!) in the logistics and freight transportation marketplace. That has been evident in conversations LM has on a daily basis with shippers, carriers, and analysts.

These people told me repeatedly last week that things are getting better and that they expect things to stay that way. That in itself is good news. What’s more, if the positive volume trends we saw during the first half of this year continue, then it stands to reason that we may have a real Peak Season this year. Remember Peak Season? In the past few years, it has been more like “Peep Season,” it seems.

In any event, these are truly interesting and extraordinary times in our industry. And I am somewhat curious about how the last few years are viewed in a historical context when we are looking back at this time. Let’s hope that the first half of 2010 was when things truly started to turn the corner. It beats the alternative, eh?

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

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