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Logistics Operators See a Rebound

Freight activity in 2024 has already begun to pick up pace, marking “a shift for truckers, warehouse operators and logistics services companies that have struggled since mid-2022,” The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “Containerized imports recorded the highest month-over-month growth for January in seven years, according to Descartes Datamyne, a data-analysis group. Transportation prices rose during the month for the first time since June 2022, according to a widely used measure of U.S. logistics activity, and retailers appear to be boosting inventories after a long period of retrenchment.”

  • Freight is benefiting from strong economic indicators, including an economy that grew at a 3.3% seasonally and inflation-adjusted rate in the fourth quarter and larger-than-anticipated retail sales growth in December.

The background: Freight firms have struggled in recent years due to a post-pandemic oversupply of trucks and containerships and a slump in shipping volumes.

​​​​​​​“Reached the bottom”: But now things seem to be looking up.

  • “I think we are bouncing along the bottom and hopefully we’re about to bounce off the bottom,” the president of one truckload carrier said. “It’s going to be probably a U-shaped recovery.”
  • Trucking firms are seeing increases in “core shipments that move under contract,” with one company reporting 8% growth year-over-year last month and another seeing an unexpected “demand for intermodal services.”
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