Insights - January/February 2018 - 21

Intermodal Insights -
Voice of the Shipper
Editor's note: This issue of Intermodal Insights includes a new, regular feature designed to
discuss the intermodal industry from the perspective of its customers, the beneficial cargo
owners, to stimulate dialogue among participants that encourages positive relationships.
By Jonathan Gold
Vice President, Supply Chain and Customs Policy, National Retail Federation

A

s we enter the new year, we can look back at 2017 and say
that it has been a good year for the retail industry. Despite
what you may have heard about the death of retail or the zombie
malls, the retail industry is poised for a very strong year ahead.
One only needs to look at the incredible numbers from Black
Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday to see that
the retail industry was off to a good start for the holiday season.
Those results helped bring November retail sales to a 6 percent
increase year-over-year. And that put the numbers on track to
meet NRF's forecast that holiday sales - defined as the months
of November and December - would grow as much as 4 percent
to $682 billion.
So, what do increased retail sales indicate for the intermodal
industry? Hopefully it will mean continued growth in intermodal,
which is driven by demand from retail and other shippers. IANA's
own numbers show that intermodal cargo continued to grow
through 2017 as trade grew.
For some retailers, intermodal has become a key part of their
supply chains. Speed to market and reliability are key consideration for retailers. Several have indicated that intermodal rail
service has helped to meet those considerations, especially as
we see continued challenges in the trucking industry. Ongoing
driver shortages, capacity issues and new mandates - such as
electronic logging devices - continue to highlight the potential
issues that retailers will have to evaluate and solve within their
supply chains.
However, that is not to say that intermodal rail doesn't have
its own share of challenges. Some retailers have concerns about
issues including lack of reliability, inconsistency with rail exchanges, getting on rail and equipment exchange at destinations. We
know that these are issues the intermodal industry has identified
and is working to solve.

Retail Industry Is Hopeful
We are hopeful that the good news for the retail industry will
continue in 2018.

Gold

In addition to the benefits of tax reduction legislation, we
need Congress and the administration to take action on a
major infrastructure initiative. President Trump has long talked
about infrastructure as a key priority. While everyone has been
waiting for the administration to release its principles, the
continued focus on infrastructure is positive. It is important
that the message continue about the ongoing issues that our
failing infrastructure means for economic growth and global
competitiveness.
Our hope is that the infrastructure package includes
provisions specific to freight movement, which is a key economic
driver. The inability to get goods to market, either here or abroad,
in a safe, efficient and timely manner negatively affects our
competitiveness. We need to view freight movement through
a holistic lens as an end-to-end movement. We can't just focus
on one mode or one segment through the supply chain. Freight
policy should break down the modal silos and help the entire
movement of freight.

Global Trading Relationships
In addition to infrastructure, we need to ensure that we
maintain our global trading relationships, including our current
free trade agreements. While we agree that we should look
at modernizing current FTAs, we must ensure that first and
foremost we do no harm to our current partnerships. This
includes the North American Free Trade Agreement. Negotiations
will continue in 2018 to modernize NAFTA. There is continued
fear that President Trump will follow through on his campaign
promise to withdraw from the 23-year old agreement, which
would hit all segments of the U.S. economy including retail,
agriculture, manufacturing and intermodal rail.
Retail's future is bright for 2018. The industry will continue
to meet the demands of an ever-changing consumer. As retail
changes, so will the industries that help to support retail. This
can only be accomplished through continued and enhanced
partnerships, which is critical for everyone.

January/February 2018 | Intermodal Insights

21


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Insights - January/February 2018

IANA News
Service, Capacity, Innovation Focus Will Help to Sustain Intermodal Progress
Intermodal Moves Toward ‘Digitization’ of Data
Ocean Carriers Focus on Continued Adjustment to Global Freight Network
Freight Report
Voice of the Shipper
Intermodal Industry Participants Stand to Gain from Tax Bill
Early Days of ELD Mandate Seem to Indicate Adjustment Period
Government News
New Members
International Intermodal News
People News
Intermodal Calendar
Insights - January/February 2018 - Cover1
Insights - January/February 2018 - 2
Insights - January/February 2018 - 3
Insights - January/February 2018 - IANA News
Insights - January/February 2018 - 5
Insights - January/February 2018 - 6
Insights - January/February 2018 - 7
Insights - January/February 2018 - Service, Capacity, Innovation Focus Will Help to Sustain Intermodal Progress
Insights - January/February 2018 - 9
Insights - January/February 2018 - 10
Insights - January/February 2018 - 11
Insights - January/February 2018 - 12
Insights - January/February 2018 - Intermodal Moves Toward ‘Digitization’ of Data
Insights - January/February 2018 - 14
Insights - January/February 2018 - 15
Insights - January/February 2018 - Ocean Carriers Focus on Continued Adjustment to Global Freight Network
Insights - January/February 2018 - 17
Insights - January/February 2018 - 18
Insights - January/February 2018 - Freight Report
Insights - January/February 2018 - 20
Insights - January/February 2018 - Voice of the Shipper
Insights - January/February 2018 - Intermodal Industry Participants Stand to Gain from Tax Bill
Insights - January/February 2018 - 23
Insights - January/February 2018 - Early Days of ELD Mandate Seem to Indicate Adjustment Period
Insights - January/February 2018 - 25
Insights - January/February 2018 - 26
Insights - January/February 2018 - Government News
Insights - January/February 2018 - New Members
Insights - January/February 2018 - International Intermodal News
Insights - January/February 2018 - 30
Insights - January/February 2018 - 31
Insights - January/February 2018 - Intermodal Calendar
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