Weather, Inventory Weigh Down Truck Tonnage


Factors such as winter weather and excessive inventory hurt January truck tonnage, which declined 1.4% from December and showed no change from the January 2015 level, American Trucking Associations reported.

The trade group’s advanced seasonally adjusted index of for-hire freight was 132.8 last month.

ATA reported that the December index number was 134.7 after its annual statistical revision that reflects seasonal adjustment factors. That number matches a record high, which also was attained in November of last year.

January’s tonnage reflects the ongoing deceleration in freight markets, which showed about 1.7% growth in the second half of last year after year-over-year growth that exceeded 4% in the first half of 2015.

“Clearly, 2016 started soft for truck tonnage,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “The winter storms that hit in January likely suppressed volumes some, but by falling 1.4%, I doubt tonnage would have been positive without the storms. That tells me that the inventory situation continues to weigh on truck freight volumes. The sooner the supply chain cleans out the excess stocks, the better for trucking.”

ATA also measures the not seasonally tonnage, based on freight actually hauled by for-hire fleets. That number was 127.1 in January, 5.2% below the December result. In January 2015, the not seasonally adjusted index was 126.9.