Truckload carrier Titan Transfer saw its strongest freight demand of the fourth quarter in December, a sharp change from normal seasonal trends that suggests pent-up shipping demand in the U.S. heading into the 2011.
“We think it’s a result of inventories simply being too low,” said Tommy Hodges, chairman of the Shelbyville, Tenn.-based carrier.
“The cutbacks in inventory changed the equilibrium in the supply chain and many (retailers) think they overadjusted,” said Hodges, interviewed at the annual SMC3 winter meeting in Atlanta. “There was far during the Christmas season of lost sales and that speeded up supply chains.”
Truckload demand usually peaks mid-way through the fourth quarter and then winds down as retailers look to sell existing inventory and move toward expedited services to fill in late demand. But Titan’s report of strong demand later in the year fits in with reports from railroads and container ship carriers that saw demand stay at a relatively high level late in the year, raising hopes for unusually strong business in the normally slow first quarter.
“Even the week after Christmas was abnormally busy for us,” said Hodges. Demand has remained relatively strong iu January, he said, but a series of weather disruptions around the country have left the view of underlying demand less clear.