While overall freight volume on U.S. railroads was up during the week ending Nov. 22, key commodities declined despite an easy comparison with last year's Thanksgiving week.
The Association of American Railroads estimated a 7.5 percent increase in total ton-miles to 32.9 billion. Intermodal volume was up 15.1 percent with containers up 15.4 percent and trailers up 13.9 percent, AAR said. Carload freight increased 6.6 percent.
But declines were expected, and appeared, in the hard-hit areas of motor vehicles, metals, and pulp and paper products. Auto movements declined 3.2 percent. Metals were down 30.8 percent. Pulp and paper fell 9.9 percent. Even grain, which has enjoyed a 5.9 percent year-to-date increase, fell 3.3 percent in week 47.
Week 48 promises to be much worse than last year and even worse than week 46 of this year as the comparison with Thanksgiving becomes harder. A two-week analysis should be more balanced.