The amount of freight hauled by the trucking industry in October rose 9.9 percent year-over-year, the largest increase since December 2013.
According to the American Trucking Associations, which tracks freight volume in its For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, freight numbers have been showing steady improvement compared with last year’s figures.
Through the first 10 month of the year the index is up 3.1 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.
During the last four months leading up to the holiday shopping season, freight volume is up 6.7 percent suggesting that retailers are expecting strong consumer spending this year, said Bob Costello, the ATA’s chief economist.
According to a National Retail Federation survey, 69 percent of Americans or 164 million people plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, which includes “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”
And consumer spending will continue through the fourth quarter, said Scott Anderson, chief economist for Bank of the West. “The fact that retail sales continued to climb in October after huge increases in spending in September bode well for this holiday shopping season.”
Though tonnage dipped 1.9 percent from August to September, month-over-month freight volume increased 3.3 percent in October.
“Continued improvement in truck tonnage reflects a much stronger freight network,” Costello said. “This strength is the result of several factors, including consumption, factory output, construction and improved inventory levels throughout the supply chain.”
ATA calculates its tonnage index based on surveys from its membership. In October, the index equaled 147.6, up from 142.9 in September.
Trucking hauls nearly 71 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation. The industry accounts for about $676.2 billion in freight business, or 79.8 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes, according to the ATA.