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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Friday, January 13, 2023

Trucking

How Will Trucking Fare in 2023’s Economy?

Heavy Duty Trucking Deborah Lockridge January 12, 2023

Although there is still a great degree of uncertainty about what 2023 will bring in trucking business conditions, analysts at FTR believe a major recession is unlikely.
FTR's “State of Freight” webinar on Jan. 12 explored the economic indicators that most affect the freight market as well as trucking-specific numbers and offered FTR’s outlook for the year.
FTR’s outlook for the year.
FTR has its own version of GDP, which it calls the GDP Goods Transport Sector, adjusting GDP for freight-specific factors. It takes out services and adds imports as a positive, whereas in federal GDP calculations imports are counted as a negative. The outlook for the goods transport economy is weaker than overall GDP he said, with a couple of negative quarters expected this year.

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‘Recession’ shouldn’t be a scary word in 2023

Fleet Owner Kevin Jones January 12, 2023

“We tend to think really bad things when we hear the word ‘recession,’ but, in this case, what's anticipated is a very shallow and very short recession expected in 2023,” explained Steve Latin-Kasper, NTEA senior director of market data and research. “Hopefully, it’s the final part of the rebalancing act that we've been engaged in since the pandemic hit back in March 2020.”
In the Jan. 11 online presentation, “Understanding market dynamics influencing the work truck industry in 2023,” Latin-Kasper noted that economists are divided on the timing, with some forecasting the downturn will hit in the spring, while others see a summer slowdown. Regardless, the rebound will follow quickly.
Link: NTEA Understanding market dynamics influencing the work truck industry in 2023

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Cass Freight Index

Cass Information Systems January 12, 2023

The shipments component of the Cass Freight Index® fell 3.9% y/y in December. On a m/m basis, the index fell 3.3%, but seasonality boosts December’s m/m performance to a 1.2% gain on an SA basis.
• The larger y/y decline, mainly on a tough comparison, was not a surprise to our readers, but we’d characterize the sequential, seasonally adjusted increase as further evidence of resilient, but still soft freight demand.
• With retail sales broadly growing in line with inflation rates, it’s clear that peak holiday shipping volumes were flattish in real terms versus a year ago.
Normal seasonality from here would have shipments back in positive territory y/y in 1H’23, but sharpening declines in imports, into the West Coast in particular, suggest near-term trends may soften further.

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Industry

Domestic intermodal rail volumes likely to slip after 2022 uptick

The Journal Of Commerce Ari Ashe January 12, 2023

Subscription-Based

A look ahead: Railroads want to keep service going in the right direction, with greater on-time performance, higher train speeds, and fewer crew shortages in 2023, but lingering discontent over the final terms of the union contract signed in December could cause a flare-up in labor-related service disruptions. Railroads that spoke with the Journal of Commerce declined to comment on 2023 intermodal contract rates, but shippers believe intermodal providers will have to slash rates on lanes shorter than 1,200 miles to remain competitive with trucks. On those shorter routes, intermodal spot rates were just 5 percent lower than truckload rates in the third quarter, compared with a savings of 26 percent on hauls of more than 2,000 miles, according to the JOC Intermodal Savings Index (ISI).

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COVID’s Impact on Shopping, Supply Chain Remains Profound

Transport Topics Connor D. Wolf January 12, 2023

The research found that one of the biggest indicators of online shopping adoption was age. People under 55 were far more likely to start shopping online. The exception was medicine, which was consistent across age groups. It also found being a student full-time and being white were strongly associated with more online buying. The research further found owning a smartphone to shop online is much more predictive than fast internet.
“We see that propensity as the income goes high for them to use more of these services,” Jaller said. “There are also clear differences, especially for the delivery choice channel, affected by whether the people reside in rural, semi-urban and urban. For instance, demand for food in rural areas was almost nothing because there is not as much of those services there.”

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Shippers/3PLs

Walmart to offer fulfillment tech, delivery services through Salesforce

Retail Dive Max Garland January 12, 2023

• Walmart will offer its store fulfillment technology and local delivery services to other retailers on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, the companies announced Thursday.
• Both Walmart GoLocal, the retailer’s same-day delivery offering, and Walmart Commerce Technologies Store Assist, which helps optimize in-store fulfillment, will be available through Salesforce AppExchange in the spring, Walmart executive Anshu Bhardwaj said during a conference call.
• “With the help of Salesforce, we are packaging everything a retailer could need to manage local fulfillment and delivery,” said Bhardwaj, senior vice president of technology strategy and commercialization at Walmart Global Technology. She declined to provide specifics on customer pricing.
Link: Walmart Press Release Walmart Commerce Technologies and Salesforce Team Up To Unlock Local Fulfillment and Delivery Solutions for Retailers

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Government/Safety/Sustainability

Government agencies release ‘blueprint’ for decarbonizing transportation sector

DC Velocity Victoria Kickham January 11, 2023

Among the goals identified this week, the agencies are: aiming for 30% of sales of new medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses to be zero-emission by 2030 and 100% by 2040, and ensuring that 100% of the federal fleet of such vehicles is zero-emission by 2035; encouraging greater use of rail for passenger and freight travel to reduce emissions from road vehicles; and increasing production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to at least three billion gallons per year by 2030 and approximately 35 billion gallons by 2050, enough to supply the entire sector, according to the plan.

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Indianapolis Gets Serious About Car Crash Investigations

Bloomberg David Zipper January 12, 2023

Subscription-Based

Last summer, Indianapolis officials created a public-facing Fatal Crash Review Commission to review deadly crashes on city streets. The commission looks beyond police reports, identifying ways in which street adjustments might reduce the likelihood of another crash and then sharing its recommendations to city leaders as well as the general public.
The value of such post-crash roadway investigations might seem obvious, but they are exceedingly rare in the United States. For that reason, Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, thinks that the city’s new initiative could serve as a model.

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Workforce

Worker shortage impedes progress in supply chains, Chamber says

Logistics Management John Schulz January 12, 2023

Called an “Agenda for American Strength,” the plan is designed to unleash problem-solving for American business. It includes:
• More building. This entails literally building on the $1.2 trillion long-term infrastructure bill passed last year. Clark said a simpler, more streamlined business permitting process is now needed;
• Make it simple. Pass a permitting reform bill to deliver on the investment made in infrastructure;
• Fix immigration. This includes adding more employment visas to fill key openings. Average wait times for those visas now exceed 60 weeks, an unacceptably long period;
• Increase domestic energy production. Clark called this the “single most important thing” that Washington can do this year; and
• More trade agreements. The U.S. has not entered into an international trade agreement in more than a decade. The U.S. and Britain are talking about entering into one, but it is not complete
Link: U.S. Chamber Top Takeaways from the U.S. Chamber’s 2023 State of American Business Address

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Why some women don’t apply for trucking jobs

Transport Dive David Taube January 12, 2023

Transportation executive Renee Krug offered her own take on gender disparities in the trucking industry: Women shouldn’t be misled about their qualifications based on a job hiring post.
Krug talked about the issue during an opening keynote for the Women In Trucking Association’s Accelerate! Conference & Expo in November, saying the imposter syndrome can mislead people to thinking they were unqualified and lucky to get a position they received.

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