Trucking, Tonnage and the Holiday Season

Phil Cohen

The holiday season is a remarkably busy time for retailers. Nearly every American shopper flocks to the stores and to shopping websites in order to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of merchandise and gifts for their loved ones. Does all of this consumption impact the truck tonnage levels for the trucking industry? Logic would seem to dictate that yes, with an increased level of consumption also comes a heavier workload for truckers—but is that truly the case?

The Holiday Season: Fast Facts for Truckers

Take a look at this quick snapshot of the holiday season, in order to get an idea for just how much the American shopper consumes:

  • The holiday season is a time of huge economic activity in the United States– in 2016, total sales are expected to surpass $ 655 billion, up 3.6% from last year.
  • More than 122 million people are thought to have shopped online during Cyber Monday, creating a great deal of work for the transportation industry, as typically all online orders are delivered to a customer’s home.
  • Despite the huge number of products consumed during the holiday season, it is a common misconception that it “sparks” the American economy– holiday sales only make up a mere 3.5% of the total GDP.

Truck Tonnage

With the billions of dollars’ worth of products purchased, how does it impact the workload for the trucking industry? Before tackling that question, it is important to understand how a trucker’s workload is measured, to begin with:

  • “Trucking Tonnage” is the industry’s term for the total amount of goods that the trucking industry hauls in a fiscal month or year.
  • The Truck Tonnage Index is used by investors worldwide as a way to measure economic activity—the better the truck tonnage, the stronger the economy, typically.
  • The truck tonnage index fluctuates monthly. In 2016, it hung rather constantly at 134 units. It’s lowest point in recent years was in August of 2009, when it fell to below 100 units during the peak of the Great Recession.

Does the Holiday Season Impact Truck Tonnage?

As it turns out, the holiday season does not affect the truck tonnage substantially. Rather, the truck tonnage index is entirely influenced by the general state of the economy. During periods of economic growth, the truck tonnage will increase. Likewise, it will decline when the economy experiences a downturn.

Although it may be tempting to believe that the increased number of products consumed (and thus shipped) would cause a spike in the truck tonnage index, it has little impact. Are you looking for a method of alternative finance that can positively impact your cash flow? Freight Factoring is best way for budding trucking companies to expand– get in touch with one of our representatives today to learn more.

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Phil Cohen

Phil is the owner of PRN Funding and sister company Factor Finders. He has been an authority in the factoring industry for over 20 years, serving on the board of directors for several factoring associations.


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