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July 9, 2021
Supply Chain Digest Flagship Newsletter


This Week in SCDigest

bullet 1H 2020 Supply Chain in Numbers and Charts bullet SCDigest On-Target e-Magazine
bullet Supply Chain Graphic & by the Numbers for the Week bullet New Stock Index

New Chain Cartoon Caption Contest!

bullet Trivia      bullet Feedback
bullet New Expert Column bullet On Demand Videocasts



first thought


Supply Chain Graphic
of the Week
The Share of 3PL Revenues from eCommerce

This Week's Supply Chain

by the Numbers

Zebra Enters Mobile Robot Market
Food Companies Forward Buying in Face of Inflation
Big Interest in Converting Idled Passenger Planes to Haul Cargo
Ship that Blocked Suez Canal Finally Freed



May 12, 2021 Contest

Show Us Your Supply Chain Wit!

It's Back! SCDigest's Weekly

Supply Chain Stock Index



 This Week's SCDigest OnTarget Newsletter

Cartoon, Top SCDigest Stories of the Week

The Cold, Hard Facts - What to Consider When Replacing HCFC and HFC Refrigerants

Opteon™ refrigerants from Chemours

Read the Press Release

Dan Gilmore

Revisiting SCDigest's Framework on RFID Process Change

What is the largest 3PL, based on 2020 US logistics revenue?
Answer Found at the
Bottom of the Page


1H 2020 Supply Chain in Numbers and Charts

As I wrote last week, it has been a very strange first half of 2021, with a strong post-pandemic recovery, shortages of everything, rising inflation, a ship stuck in the Suez Canal and more. (See The Top Supply Chain Stories by Month 1H 2021.)

This week, we offer our popular look at the first six months of 2021 in numbers and charts.




In Q1, the most recent number we have, ecommerce sales were up a huge 39.1%, according to the Commerce Department.

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Feedback here

We always start with a check on the US and global economy, as that has such an impact in the end on supply chain practice.

Real US GDP was down a near record 3.5% in 2020, as reported in early 2021, though it was trending up as the year ended.


Q1 real GDP then increased a robust 6.4% on an annualized basis. The official Q2 numbers aren't out yet, but the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank's most recent estimate is for even stronger 7.9% growth in the quarter just ended.


The International Monetary Fund expects the global economy to rise 6.0% in 2021, then falling to 3.5% growth in 2022 off of those stronger 2021 numbers.


It pegs US GDP growth this year at 6.4%, and if anywhere close to accurate it would be the first year with greater than 3% US growth since 2005, when it was once commonplace.

Consistent with GDP numbers, the US Purchasing Managers Index from the Institute of Supply Management - which fell to a dismal 41.5 in April 2020, well below the 50 mark that separates US manufacturing expansion from contraction - has 
been on a roll in 2021.


The PMI has been above 60 for the last five months, indicating robust US manufacturing expansion so far this year.



However, another view of US manufacturing strength is the index on US factory output from the Federal Reserve - and that tells a somewhat different story.


The index for June, just out yesterday, came out at 97.9, basically flat with January's 98.2, though well above the low point in the recession in April at about 83. However, the June score is still well below the 105 level in February 2020 right before the COVID crisis.


In fact, at 97.9, it means US manufacturing is below baseline 2012 levels (index = 100) now 9 long years later.

It was an odd 1H for oil prices. The low mark for West Texas Crude was the start of January at $49.3 per barrel, and it went up and up from there, ending June on the high price for the first six months, at $75.2, for a rise of 52%. To have the low and high be the start and end is very unusual.


1H 2021 Oil Prices



Similar story for US on-the-road diesel prices, which started the year at $2.64, then steadily rose to $3.30 by the end of June, a rise of 21% and headed higher.


Freight volumes were suprisingly not that strong. Through May, the ATA Freight Tonnage Index was basically flat, down 0.4% - and well below levels before the pandemic.


Nevertheless, the Cass Linehaul Index, which tracks per mile truckload contract rates in the US before any fuel surcharge or other accessorial fees, was up 7.5% and 8.1% year-over-year in January and February even before the weak 2020 comparisons after the start of the pandemic in March. The index was then up 10-14% the last four months of the period.



It was a decent first half for US railroads, though again relative to weak volumes in 1H 2020. Total US rail traffic for 1H 2021 up 13.7%, with the intermodal component up 17.5%.


In terms of ocean container shipping rates, the China Containerized Freight Indexstarted the year at about 1750 and ended at 2600, a rise of 48.5% to ship a container on average out of China. But the increase was really higher than that, with many shippers having to pay high extra fees to get their boxes moved, as volumes soared.

The growth of ecommerce sales in the US remained strong. In Q1, the most recent number we have, ecommerce sales were up a huge 39.1%, according to the Commerce Department. But oddly the growth of all retail sales (including ecommerce) was up 7.8% in Q1 versus Q4 2020, virtually equal to the 7.7% increase in on-line sales. Not sure I trust those numbers.

Amazon said its Q1 revenue grew a massive 44%, taking it to $108.52 billion. Amazon had net income of $8.1 billion dollars, a very respectable 7.4% of revenues, and way up from profits of $2.5 billion in Q1 2020.

I have lots more but am out of space. Hope you enjoyed all this.

What is your reaction to the1H Supply Chain 2021 in numbers and charts? What numbers would you add? Let us know your thought at the Feedback section below.


On Demand Videocast:

Understanding Distributed Order Management

Highlights from the New "Little Book of Distributed Order Management"

In this outstanding Videocast, we'll discuss DOM, based on the new Little Book of Distributed Order Management, written by our two Videocast presenters.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Satish Kumar, VP Client Services, Softeon

Now Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

The Grain Drain: Large-Scale Grain Port Terminal Optimization

The Constraints and Challenges of Planning and Implementing Port Operations

This videocast will provide a walkthrough of two ways to formulate a MIP, present an example port, and discuss port operations.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Dr. Evan Shellshear, Head of Analytics, Biarri.

Now Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

A Blueprint for WMS Implementation Success

If You Want a Successful WMS Project, You will Find the Blueprint in this Excellent Broadcast

This videocast lays out the keys to ensuring your WMS implementation goes smoothly, involves minimal pain, and accelerates time to value.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Todd Kovi of Radix Consulting and Dinesh Dongre of Softeon.

Now Available On Demand


Feedback will return next week.


Q: What is the largest 3PL, based on 2020 US logistics revenue?


A: CH Robinson, at $15.4 billion, according to Armstrong & Associates

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