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  First Thoughts

    Dan Gilmore


    Supply Chain Digest

Jan. 20, 2023

The 2022 Supply Chain in Numbers and Charts

From Economic Growth to Freight Volumes and Rates to What Happened in ecommerce, We Have It All


Two weeks ago, I wrote about what I thought were the biggest or most interesting supply chain stories by month. (See The Top Supply Chain Stories by Month 2022 and Top Supply Chain Stories by Month 2022 - Complete List.)

Then last week, I took a look at the performance of supply chain and logistics-related stocks in 2022 (See Supply Chain and Logistics Stocks Performance 2022.)

This week, we're back with our popular look supply chain 2022 in numbers and charts.


Gilmore Says....

The growth of ecommerce made a surprising turn. In Q1, US ecommerce sales were up 6.8% versus 2021 - below overall retail sales growth of 7.8%.

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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 1.6% in Q1, then 0.6% in Q2. Two consecutive months of declining GDP is the classic definition of a recession, but if so it was a mild one, with job growth strong and unemployment low.

Q3 saw growth of 3.2%. Q4 GDP numbers will be out any day. For the full year, the Federal Reserve is forecasting growth of 2.0% - and just 0.2% in 2023.


On a global basis, just recently the World Trade Organization said it now estimates global GDP was up just 1.7% for all 2022, less than its most recent forecast of 3.0% in October.

China just announced GDP growth of only 3% for 2022, the second lowest annual gain since 1976.


But inflation was the top economic story of 2022. The Consumer Price Index was up 7.5% in January, a huge jump. It continued on from there, peaking with a 9.1% rise in June, and staying above 7.5% until it dropped to 7.1% in November.


For the full year prices were up 8.3%, as companies had to dust off supply chain inflation playbooks not needed for almost 50 years.

Consistent with mostly dropping GDP numbers, the US Purchasing Managers Index from the Institute of Supply Management has been tailing off from the start of the year, as shown in the chart b
elow. Then in November and December the PMI fell below the 50 mark that separates US manufacturing expansion from contraction.



Source: ISM


Another view of US manufacturing strength is the index of US factory output from the Federal Reserve. The index for December came out at 99.8, flat from January. However, the scores all year were well below the 105 level seen in February 2020 right before the start of the COVID crisis.


In fact, at 99.8, it means US manufacturing output is also just below above baseline 2017 levels (index = 100) now more than five years later. Reshoring is still not showing up in the numbers.

It was up was a wild year for oil prices in 2022. The year started out at $76.99 for a barrel of West Texas crude before soaring to a peak of $123.70 in early March. Prices stayed high through most of June before tumbling for the rest of the year, ending at $80.26, for a full year change of just 4.2%


Oil prices of course sent gasoline and diiesel prices soaring. Gas started the year at $3.38/gallon, rose to over $5.00 on average in June, but later fell sharply to end at $3.20. Diesel spiked as well, to a high of $5.81 in June, but then stayed elevated, finishing at $4.53.


Freight volumes were suprisingly strong but appear to be fading. The Freight Tonnage Index from ATA for November was up just 0.8% versus 2021, which was lowest growth of the 15 straight year-over-year monthly gains. For YTD through November, the index rose 3.7%.


The Cass Linehaul Index, which tracks per mile truckload contract rates in the US before any fuel surcharge or other accessorial fees, was up double digit percentages versus 2021 for the first half of the year, but the gains have dropped dramatically in recent months, as can be seen below.



It was a not good year again for US railroads. Total US carload traffic for 2022 was down 2.8% from last year, with intermodal units specifically down 4.9%.


In terms of ocean container shipping rates, what a year. The China Containerized Freight Index started 2022 at about 3250 and ended at just 1250 for the cost to ship a container on average out of China. That is a decline of 62%, as spot rates for container shipping collapsed, though less so to east coast ports than to the west coast.

The growth of ecommerce made a surprising turn. In Q1, US ecommerce sales were up 6.8% versus 2021 - below overall retail sales growth of 7.8%. which repeated in Q2 (7.2% for ecom, 7.3% overall). Ecom did grow faster in Q3, at 10.8% versus 9.1% overall. I also note that Amazon's on-line sales were down in both Q1 and Q2 befo rising 7% in Q3.

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

What is your reaction of the supply chain 2022 in numbers and charts? What numbers would you add? Let us know your thought at the Feedback section below.

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