Roads and railways have been suffering from a long-term decline. But things appear to be improving, and they have consumers to thank for it.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, domestic freight shipments increased 2.7 percent in October compared to the same period a year ago and are up 1 percent from September. WSJ cited a survey by Cass Information Systems for the data. According to WSJ, the increase in freight shipments in the U.S. in October suggests there is renewed growth in shipping demand. After all, October was the first year-over-year volume gain in 20 months, with the robust trend appearing to continue in November as well.
“The winter of the overall freight recession we have seen for over a year and a half in the U.S. may not be over, but it is showing signs of thawing,” said analyst Donald Broughton in a report covered by WSJ. The paper pointed to the Association of American Railroads, which said earlier this month it is seeing a 2.8 percent year-over-year improvement in rail traffic on a weekly basis, while DAT Solutions, the online freight marketplace, reported truckload volumes have increased 7 percent when compared to the same week a year ago. Big railroads in the U.S. carried more traffic provided by retailers that goes between trucks and railroads in October than any other month in 2016.
What’s more, business appears to be increasing at a time when it typically slows down. That is being driven in part by the growth of consumers purchasing things online, said Broughton. He pointed to “outstanding” volume growth at FedEx, which had U.S. volume growth of 10 percent in its most recently reported quarter, and United Parcel Service, which saw its volume increase 5.2 percent in the third quarter.