Fleetowner 37358 020519 Amazon Prime Truck

As e-commerce sales soar, trucking’s average length of haul drops

Feb. 5, 2019
ATRI: Between 1999-2017, e-commerce sales increased 3,000%, and now total more than 9% of total U.S. retail sales.

The continued growth of e-commerce sales is leading to an increase in the use of single-unit trucks, and a decline in the average length of haul, according to new research by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

ATRI said between 1999-2017, e-commerce sales increased 3,000%, and now total more than 9% of total U.S. retail sales — up from less than 1% in 1999.

As a result, registrations for single-unit trucks increased 7.8% between 2007 and 2016, compared with only 4.4% growth in combination truck registrations. Additionally, intra-regional and last-mile truck trips are increasing, pushing down overall average trip lengths by 37% since 2000.

“These trends are game-changing, and our industry must adapt quickly to ensure that trucking continues to be the preeminent freight mode,” said Tom Benusa, chief information officer of Transport America.

As a result of changing consumer patterns, “last-mile fulfillment centers” represented 73% of the industrial real estate market in 2017, a 15% increase from the previous year, ATRI said.

Retailers are decentralizing their distribution networks to bring inventory closer to consumers, and there has been a spike in courier services to ensure fast delivery.

With so many more deliveries going to congestion, urban areas, ATRI noted fleets and equipment manufacturers are experimenting with new technologies, including drones and electric vehicles.

“According to a study conducted by UPS, a majority (63%) of survey respondents indicated that delivery speed is important when searching for and selecting products,” ATRI wrote.“As a result, consumer expectations regarding delivery speed have forced retailers and their supply chains to accommodate shifting and shrinking delivery windows.”

Looking ahead, ATRI noted that the higher number of local e-commerce deliveries could provide an opportunity for 18-20-year-old commercial drivers to get involved in the industry.

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry at our April 16th webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive pay...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!