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Supply Chain by the Numbers
   
 

- Nov. 12, 2015 -

   
  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Nov. 12, 2015
   
 

US Truckload Carriers Finally Starting to Add Capacity; Lego Caught Quite Bit Short on Brick Production; eCommerce Sales Growth will Far Outpace Brick and Mortar Again this Year; Warehouse Market Still Tight

   
 
 
 

2100

That’s how many tractors carrier JB Hunt had in its truckload segment at the end of Q3 – up from 1834 a year ago. That is notable for two reasons: (1) Until just recently, Hunt had been reducing its tractor count in its truckload sector over many quarters, just reversing that trend in 2015; (2) Hunt wasn't the only truckload carrier at last expanding capacity. Swift, for example, said its average operational truck count across all segments increased by 831, or 4.8%, year over year in the third quarter, and a number of other carriers reported similar increases. A lack of drivers continues to constrain fleet expansions, but at long last it seems carriers are starting to grow capacity at least modestly after years of almost no expansion.

 
 


 
 
 

8.1%

That was the vacancy rate for US warehouse and distribution space in the third quarter, according to the latest report from the real estate analysts at Costar. That rate was unchanged from Q2 - marking the first time since 2009 that the vacancy rate has not declined quarter over quarter, as demand for logistics space has remain strong. Costar says additions to logistics inventory nearly matched net absorption, with demand rising a strong 3.4% in the quarter year over year. That strong demand and low vacancy rates have naturally pushed up rents. Costar says rent growth "remains an astounding five times above the historical industrial real estate average of 1%, with light-industrial rental rates up 5.7% year over year, while logistics properties are 5.4% above a year." However, Costar says supply is finally starting to catch up a bit with demand, which may push rent growth back down over the next year.

 
 
 
 
 
11%

That is the projected level of growth in ecommerce sales in November and December, according to the analysts at Forrester Research, according to numbers released last week. That’s a bit slower than last year’s 12% clip, but still about three times the growth of overall retail for the holidays. (The National Retail Federation has previously forecast overall sales will rise 3.7% this season.) That would translate into some $95 billion in ecommerce business this Christmas season. Somewhat unusually, surveys show consumer sentiment towards the traditional Black Friday shopping day is turning a bit negative, while views of the following Cyber Monday are staying strong, in another bit of bad news for brick and mortar retail.

 
 
 
 

72 Million

Unbelievably, that is the number of Lego blocks or bricks that the company's factory in its home country of Denmark makes every day – but it still isn’t enough. Lego said last month it expects it will be unable to deliver new orders coming from European toy stores in the run-up to the holidays. North American orders should be covered, the company said, served by a Lego plant in Monterrey, Mexico that has enough capacity to meet demand. All this shows the challenge of even mid-term forecasting. "We don’t have a crystal ball, unfortunately," said a Lego spokesman. "It’s been a challenge for us to ensure we have the right mix of products in the right volumes at the end of the year." Yes, that is what supply chain is all about. Lego has only recently embraced formal Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) to help sync supply with demand.

 
 
 
 
 
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