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Today’s Pickup: Shopping season off to good start as U.S. consumers look to spend

Scene at a Walmart on Black Friday ( Photo: Walmart )

Detroit tops list of places for online retail start-ups; climate change seen having a major impact on U.S. infrastructure.

Good day,

Amid uncertain activity in trade, home construction and business spending, one pillar of the U.S. economy, consumer spending, appears to be holding steady. Official estimates for Black Friday retail sales will not be released until Tuesday, but the early indications are that shoppers are not holding back. ShopperTrak, which tracks retail visits, saw a 1% decline in retail foot traffic during Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Some decline is expected as shoppers continue to migrate to online retail, but the decline is “consistent with data results over the last several years,” it added. Overall, ShopperTrak says that based on the traffic data, “retailers are in for a successful holiday season,” especially as there is one more Saturday for shopping until Christmas. Walmart’s (NYSE: WMT) first read on holiday shipping was that “traffic was steady all night.”  Macy’s (NYSE: M) Chief Executive Jeff Gennette says the retailer had a “strong start” to the holiday shopping season.

Did you know?

Thinking of starting an online business? Think Detroit. Sellics, an online shopping analytics firm, says the Motor City tops its charts for fledgling entrepreneurs due to low start-up costs. It says a Detroit resident would need to amass $31,000 in savings to start an online business. As for New York City, fuhgeddaboudit as you would need $64,000 to start up an online retailer.


“More people have already shopped than at this point last year, and their average spend is higher.”

Neil Saunders, a managing director at GlobalData Retail, on preliminary holiday shopping estimates.

In other news:

New Zealand’s trucking companies put drivers ‘at risk’

Reckless driving offenses double over five years as carriers push drivers. (

U.S.-China trade spat can spillover to world economy

Chinese ambassador to the U.S. warns global supply chains hang in balance of upcoming talks. (WSJ)

U.K.’s brexit from Europe to impact truckers

New quota on permits only allows one in 10 U.K. drivers to operate in Europe. (

Volvo deploys autonomous trucks in Norwegian mine

Volvo plans to charge the miner on a per-load basis for the vehicles. (Fleet Owner)

New futures contract readied for low-sulfur marine fuel

Contract could mitigate costs of using more expensive fuel as of 2020 (S&P Global)

Final Thoughts

Last Friday saw the release of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a Congress-mandated report on the impacts of climate change to the U.S. The report says that climate change will “result in substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century,” with annual losses in some economic sectors expected in the “hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century.” The transportation industry will also see these effects as seal level rise will make coastal road and bridges more vulnerable to flooding, leading to increased congestion and higher accident risk. Hampton Roads, Virginia, the home of the fifth biggest port in the U.S., is experiencing severe flooding at least a couple of times per year. South Carolina’s U.S. Route 17, which connects to several Southeastern ports, floods 10 times per year and could see up to 180 floods annually by 2045, the report says. Higher temperatures will also stress bridges and roadways, causing buckled roadway joints and impacting pavement performance.

Hammer down everyone!

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.