An upturn in consumer spending combined with greater investments by companies is expected to drive up demand for trucking during the course of 2014, according so new economic analysis reports. Bob Costello, a chief economist who works with the American Trucking Association, expects the number of truck loads to grow by 2.3 to 2.7 percent this year, which continues the upward trend established over the past year. During 2013, the primary gains in trucking business occurred in flatbed and tanker trucks, and much of that activity was a direct result of greater production of oil and natural gas. This year, most of the growth could occur in the van sector of the market, which is driven primarily by growing demands for general consumer merchandise. These loads are commonly referred to as boxed freight.
On Feb. 6, the National Retail Federation released an estimate that retail sales should grow by 4.16 percent in 2014, which is an upgrade from their previous forecast of just 3.7 percent. This estimate includes only consumer goods, and excludes the healthy growth of automobile sales, gasoline, and food for the nation’s restaurant industry. Factoring these in, 2014 is expected to see considerable growth in the truck business needed to collect and distribute these goods and the raw materials used to make them.
This is especially good news for Southern California, where an estimated 10 percent of the local workforce works in the transportation of goods. Delays in the completion of the renovations at the Panama Canal could further boost the economy of this area, as the bulk of imported raw materials and goods must continue to use the California ports until the canal is complete.
Much of the growth in trucking is expected to happen west of the Rockies. Harsh winter weather is still hampering freight shipments in the eastern half of the country, but this situation should subside as winter releases her grip.