Truck Shipment Slowdown Confirms Weakening Consumer Spending

by: William Trent, CFA

Recent data from the Chicago Fed to home prices to retail sales and jobs data have all pointed to the long-awaited slowdown in consumer spending. The latest sign comes courtesy of the people who move the goods from manufacturer to retailer and, ultimately, consumer.

Trucking Shipments Drop by 1.7 Percent
U.S. trucking shipments declined by 1.7 percent in February compared with a year earlier, an industry trade group said. The American Trucking Associations, in a monthly report released Monday, said shipments have declined on a year-over-year basis for eight straight months. Its truck tonnage index rose 1.6 percent from January, however.

Because more than two-thirds of all manufactured and retail goods in the U.S. are carried by truck, the industry is considered an important economic bellwether.

And, since two thirds of the economy is consumer-related, the trucking business also offers a window into consumer spending habits.

The slowdown in trucking could easily have been anticipated, given the data points mentioned above, along with the earnings warning from FedEx (NYSE:FDX) and weaker pricing for corrugated boxes. One reason to watch so many different indicators is to be able to spot when a given data point should be given extra attention or ignored based on whether it supports everything else that is known.

About this article:

Want to share your opinion on this article? Add a comment.
Disagree with this article? .
To report a factual error in this article, click here