As businesses across the country have moved to reopen, we turn our attention this week to trends in retail shipments over the past few months – both on a national level and, more closely, at the states that have seen the sharpest increases in retail shipments.

In general, retail shipping load volumes are bouncing back sharply from their March-April lows, when retail sales plummeted 16.4%. This is in line with the broader rebound we’re seeing in the economy, with retail sales spiking more than 17% in May. In fact, more money was spent on e-commerce in the US between April and May than in the last 12 Cyber Mondays combined.

On the capacity side, all of this fluctuating demand is causing a constantly changing truckload capacity market in which shipment-to-truck ratios vary greatly due to the demand changes and shifts in regional demand. To cope with these changes, leading shippers are collaborating with carriers on the demand variances in an effort to maintain consistent volumes – or as much as is possible, considering the market conditions.

It’s important to keep in mind that the situation remains very fluid, particularly given the recent climb in the coronavirus infection rate in many states, and increasing talk of reinstating lockdowns. Interestingly, some of the states registering the highest increases in retail loads are also reporting increased numbers of COVID-19 infections, as authorities in California, Texas and Florida hit the pause button on their reopening plans.

Overall Retail Shipment Trends

Across the FourKites platform, we have seen an uptick of about  9% in retail shipments over the four weeks between late May and late June. When we widen the aperture and look back two months, we found that shipping volumes in retail rose at an even steeper 20% pace between early April and late June.

Drilling down into the data, the numbers vary by state, but the overall patterns remain similar as we compare shipment loads to retailers over the same time period. The state-wide increases that we found generally reflect the lifting of shelter-in-place orders and restrictions on public gatherings.

The states that displayed the highest upticks in retail shipments were Texas, Florida, California, Michigan and New York. Below, we break out the state-level retail uptick between the weeks of 5/4-6/29, as well as the more recent snapshot of change between the weeks of 6/1-6/29.

Texas Retail Shipment Trends


6/1 – 6/29: Up 5%
5/4 – 6/29: Up 7%

Texas announced stay at home order/social distancing orders on March 30.
On May 1 the state began to relax social distancing restrictions.

Florida Retail Shipment Trends


6/1 – 6/29: Up 8%
5/4 – 6/29: Up 5%

After announcing a statewide stay at home order on April 1, Florida reopened its beaches a couple of weeks later and then began relaxing its stay-at-home restrictions. On June 3rd, Florida moved into phase 2 of its reopening plans.

California Retail Shipment Trends


6/1 – 6/29: Up 13%
5/4 – 6/29: Up 24%

California announced its stay-at-home order on March 19, one of the first states to adopt such a measure. On May 7, California announced a gradual reopening plan for low-risk businesses.

Michigan Retail Shipment Trends


6/1 – 6/29: Up 13%
5/4 – 6/29: Up 9%

Michigan announced a stay-at-home order on March 23.
On June 1, it announced plans to begin to loosen restrictions on the operations of businesses and workplaces.

New York Retail Shipment Trends


6/1 – 6/29: Up 11%
5/4 – 6/29: Up 26%

New York issued its stay-at-home decree on March 22.
On June 8, it announced a partial reopening followed by a phase two reopening on June 17.

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FourKites will continue to monitor and provide detailed analysis on the fluid industry trends emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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