2014The trucking industry got good news last month when economists forecast a boost in retail sales in 2014.

As anyone in the trucking business knows, when consumers free up more spending money, the trucking industry also sees a spike in activity. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts a 4.1 percent growth in retail sales, which could bring the retail sales total to $3.24 trillion by the end of 2014. Analysts only predicted a 3.7 percent growth in 2013.

Online sales also impact the trucking industry and transportation jobs. The NRF is looking for an increase in online sales from nine to 12 percent in 2014.

There are a couple of caveats to the forecast. First, most retail stores had a less-than-stellar holiday season, which means they had to offer customers a big discount in order to get more traffic. Second, the unemployment rate is still on the high side and the economic recovery, while definitely in motion, is slower than what was hoped.

Retailers were also hurt by the snowstorms that ripped through many parts of the country but particularly in the East. These storms affected traffic and much of the post-holiday rush that companies were looking forward to, which means their profit outlook was affected.

On the upside, the NRF say there is likely to be less volatility in 2014. Consumers had to deal with the government shutdown in 2013, and they had to adjust for a two percent increase in payroll taxes related to Social Security. However, in 2014, the NRF is forecasting a recovery that could see another 185,000 jobs per month, which will help the unemployment rate and consumer spending.

The NRF also believes there will be an uptick in growth beyond the long-term historic average. Economic growth, when measured by gross domestic product, could jump to between 2.6 and three percent, which is up from 1.9 percent in 2013.

The incoming fourth quarter results will get a full analysis from industry experts soon. At least one analyst said he doesn’t expect the reports to be positive and could show a 4.5 percent decline from the fourth quarter in the previous year, which would be the worst quarter since 2009. This is certainly bad news considering a survey of 120 retailers at the beginning of December led to a forecast of a profitable fourth quarter.

In 2012, the trucking industry moved 9.4 billion tons of freight, which accounts for 68.5 percent of all domestic shipments that year. A combination of low inflation, a growing housing market and a stock market that continues to recover has increased the amount of optimism people in the trucking industry have for the growth of the industry. In fact, most companies are having a difficult time filing the transportation jobs that are currently open. Most drivers in a driving training school have job offers before they’re even finished with their program.

Drivers looking for work today have many choices. Spirit Miller is a company focusing on driveaway services that give truckers several employment options. We deliver speed and quality of service. Our company is looking for truckers with an excellent driving record and a desire for the freedom and flexibility the industry offers.

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