The latest bit of bright news is Friday’s report that retail sales rose 1 percent in January over December. The Wall Street Journal says economists attribute the blip – following six consecutive months of falling retail sales – “to discounting and easier automobile-financing terms in January. Sales of cars, electronics and clothes all were up. Year-over-year, January retail sales decreased 9.7%.”
For a dose of reality, the weekly roundup from Bob Costello, chief economist at the American Trucking Associations, has some bubble-busters:
- The number of truckload loads contracted 9.1 percent from November and dropped a whopping 16.4 percent from December 2007.
- Dry van and tank truck freight each plummeted 24.9 percent during the second half of 2008, only to be surpassed by flatbed freight, which plunged nearly 30 percent.
- In December, total less-than-truckload shipments contracted 7.2 percent and 11.2 percent from November and December 2007, respectively.
— Max Heine