Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Growth in the Nation’s Freight Shipments – Highlights.
The high rate of growth of retail and wholesale activities in the United States in the 1990s suggests a substantial commodification of the economy and a new commercial environment where the consumer plays a greater role. Estimates place personal consumption accounting for about 70% of the GDP. While the population increased by about 11% over that decade, retail sales increased by 62%, which is twice the growth of the GDP. Distribution activities have been organized to cope with this growth of the demand, which has been accompanied by a growth of the value of freight shipments (value added products) and the average haul distance. This reflects the growing prominence of products that have a lighter weight in relation to their value (e.g. electronics) and more efficient transport systems to support capacity and reliability requirements of contemporary freight distribution.