It’s all gravy
Up a dime … almost — As freight workers nurse their post-Thanksgiving hangovers and mend broken diets, the dry van trucking spot market inclusive of fuel fattened carrier bank accounts by 9 cents per mile on a national average. Entering the last leg of the race toward Christmas, rates are back near series’ highs landing at $3.47 a mile. This reverses a slight downtrend that we saw through October and November.
Pump up the volume — So, why haven’t rates skyrocketed in November as they usually do? Look at that chart above: With freight volumes at perpetual peak season levels for a year, holidays have been the only relief on the calendar. In fact, counter to what usually occurs, we even saw a dip over Thanksgiving when volumes would usually pop. That aligns with historically low inventory levels. Due to congestion, shippers can’t hold off on moving freight and then slam carriers with pull forwards ahead of the holidays. Instead, they’re trying to move any and all goods that are available and have been doing so throughout the year.
Worth a watch — In FreightWaves’ Chart of the Week, Zach Strickland reports, “Demand for longer-haul capacity has grown significantly over the past five months, driving the average length of haul for truckload tenders 10% higher. An unseasonal increase in this index is indicating shippers are seeing easing demand at the personal consumption level, are still trying to build inventories or both.” Will the retail results from Black Friday and Cyber Monday reverse the direction of consumer consumption, or will they set the trend moving forward? Let’s have a look.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday roundup
More of a gray Friday tbh — Are the days of trampling our fellow shoppers on Black Friday a thing of the past? CNBC reports, “Traffic at retail stores on Black Friday dropped 28.3% compared with 2019 levels.” I was in a Walmart here in Chattanooga braving the fray for some Christmas lights, and anecdotally it seemed like any other day at Wally World. Thanksgiving Day traffic looked even worse as it hit the earth like the Ever Given trying to cross the Suez, down over 90% according to Sensormatic.
Deal with it — With stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy shutting down on turkey day and “Black Friday sales” losing meaning with shoppers, buying has been spread out throughout the season. Not only that, but deals were nothing to go busting any doors down for. Forbes reports, “The average promotional discount across major retailers heading into Black Friday is 33.4%, compared to an average discount of 37% that was offered in October and the early part of this month.”
A case of the Cyber Mondays — Much like Black Friday, Cyber Monday fell victim to sales and deals being spread out over the past several weeks. Add to that the mainstreamification of logistics news (even Adele has been blamed for ruining the vinyl supply chain) which told shoppers to prepare for Christmas to be ruined, and you get yesterday’s tepid results. According to Reuters, “On Black Friday … U.S. shoppers spent roughly $8.9 billion online, down from $9 billion a year earlier.” Estimates for Cyber Monday tell a similar tale with between $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion in sales this year vs $10.8 billion last year. Will next year’s supply chain topic of the year be “oversupply” as consumer demand wanes and misfit freight starts to clog up warehouses?
Amazon is still king — So who won online? PYMNTS reports, “71% of Black Friday shoppers made their online purchases at Amazon, while over 41% made digital purchases through Walmart and 28% did so through Target.” As for those supply chain-related impacts, PYMNTS estimates that stockouts cost retailers $4.6 billion on Black Friday.
The New Yorker delivers with this cover
The dream to go mainstream — Did you get to hold court at the table this Thanksgiving and impress your relatives with your deep understanding of America’s newest obsession: supply chains? If not, there’s still time this holiday season with a beautiful new cover on The New Yorker keeping interest alive. The cover story does end with a sad revelation by the artist who drew the picture, though, as he shares how he lost faith in the very man he depicts saving Christmas. We know the real truth: Seafarers, truckers, longshoremen, warehouse staff, brokers and retail workers are the true force behind Operation Save Christmas.
More time hauling — Owner-operators and small fleets can spend up to 10 hours a week searching for individual loads to keep their trucks full. Convoy, the nation’s leading digital freight network, is looking to help drivers spend less time hunting and more time hauling with dedicated freight contracts.
“As a small operation, we’ve never been able to access anything like this from the traditional brokers we’ve worked with. This gives me peace of mind that I don’t have to be constantly looking for new shipments.” — Kenia Vazquez of KVR Transport
Supply chain brand killer — A recent thread on Reddit forum HobbyDrama popped up with this headline: “Arcade 1UP, a company that builds smaller-scale arcade game replicas, goes from hero to zero due to chip shortage, huge price increases, and terrible quality control issues.” The company’s arcade cabinets have garnered a massive following since 2018 with releases of near-identical (albeit three-fourths the size) quarter-munching classics like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. However, this year microchip and bill of materials shortages have gamers crying foul. At issue are cheap components paired with rapidly accelerating price tags for the brand’s latest models. Unfortunate too as this Simpsons arcade does look excellent. Doh!
We need your help
A Very WTT Christmas — Bring on the cheer. We’re getting to that time of the year when belts get tight and shipping windows get even tighter. This season we’re reaching out to readers of this newsletter as well as the freight community to help us decorate the WTT Christmas tree. This beautiful conifer is 100% real and 100% needs your company’s logo ornaments on it. Get featured on our upcoming broadcasts and of course during our last episode of the year, “A very WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Christmas” on Dec. 17. Email me for where to send the decorations.
But wait, there’s more — We’re also looking for videos from offices wishing the freight community happy holidays. Whip out your iPhone, deliver some cheer and email it to me to be part of our special on Dec. 17. Songs are welcome too. Deadline for ornaments and cheer videos is Dec. 13.
Need some inspiration? — Rewatch last year’s A Very WTT Christmas to see some of the incredible performances that the freight world delivered.
WTT this week
Wednesday — A deep dive on this year in ocean freight and what to expect next year; will freight markets go back to normal at any point in ’22; how to protect your holiday freight from theft with special guests Brian Bourke, chief growth officer at SEKO Logistics; Jim Monkmeyer, president, transportation, DHL Supply Chain North America; and Scott Cornell, national practice lead for transportation and crime and theft specialist at Travelers.
Friday — The logistics of online groceries; why truckers shouldn’t chase sign-on bonuses; Tive goes beyond our planet; workout tips and a face-melting musical performance with special guests Jordan Dickerson, head of supply chain, Fresh Street; Krenar Komoni, CEO, Tive; Brian Runnels, vice president of safety, Reliance Partners; Robert Bain, Strongest Man in Logistics, CarrierDirect; and Convoy.
Now on demand
Importance of pets in the office and the cab
Death to noncompetes
Heavy metal ketchup — Caught up with Kraft Heinz’s Trent Zuberi to hear him shred his guitar and talk about supply chain planning for a massive grocery company. Take a listen.
Save the world — Speaking of guitars, ICYMI The Dude is making guitar picks out of ocean plastics! Take a look.
Subscribe to the show
Or simply look up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.
All FreightWaves podcasts can also be found on one feed by looking up FreightCasts wherever you get your podcasts.
Want a new WHAT THE TRUCK?!? shirt or hat? Check out the swag store.