January 05, 2010

Economic Indicators

In the comments to an earlier post Steven Den Beste asks how the Christmas rush went at UPS last month.

Specific numbers are, of course, proprietary. However, volume was down a bit overall. It seemed that we had a little more volume going to the stores than last year. It also seemed that residential deliveries were down a bit from last year. Both of these observations are subjective and as I was completely uninvolved in any deliveries this year (for the first time in 16 years) I was in a poor position to gauge, but that was certainly the way things seemed to be rolling. I suppose this makes sense last year the retailers were a bit panicked by the crash and consumers hadn't groked the gravity of the situation, whereas this year consumers are looking at the job market with fear and retailers desperately need to clear inventory for tax purposes.

Even to the extent these observations are accurate they may not be typical. Southeastern Virginia got quite a kick in the teeth with the closing down of the meat packing plants, paper mill and sawmill in Isle of Wight County as well as several businesses (trucking companies for instance) dependent on their operations. This happened right before Thanksgiving.

It's also hard to get a good feel for the overall picture because volume was deperessed for several days due to weather delays.

Interestingly, despite the lower overall volume, we had what was, I believe, our heaviest day ever in our building. This was due to the backlog of stuff that had been delayed by the big snowstorm arriving all at once, on what would have already been the heaviest day of the year.

Cardboard tsunami.

All in all not terribly encouraging, but not quite the disaster some had feared. As an aside, the last two days have been exceedingly hectic, due again to dealing with the backlog of weather delays


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