Intermodal volumes continued to accelerate through 2010, posting an overall 17.2% year-over-year increase during Q2 2010, according to a report released by the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA).
The Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics Report showed domestic containers rising 16.4% during the quarter and setting a new record high, while international container volume increased 20.9%. This was the first time in nearly four years that domestic container growth was surpassed by an increase in international container volume.
Although domestic container volume grew at a somewhat slower pace than international for the first time in recent years, it was the 20th consecutive quarter of growth for domestic containers. Trailers also recorded a 5% gain during the quarter, but are expected to continue their long-term downward trend later this year. Overall domestic intermodal volume rose 13.2%, a gain strong enough to erase 2008-2009 volume losses and set a new record for the highest domestic intermodal loadings in a quarter.
Inventory restocking likely played a major role in driving the large increase in intermodal volume recorded this quarter. During 2009’s downturn, retailers aggressively cut inventories to the point where they were so low at the beginning of 2010 that they could not support even a modest rise in consumer spending. As a result, inventory replenishment has resumed and has become a key driver of intermodal growth. Although total intermodal shipments are still below pre-recession levels, they have significantly recovered.