Business Measurements: Car-Loadings, Bank Debits, Sales, Shipments, and Foreign Trade
Under "Measurements of Trade" will be considered some of the chief indexes of business which measure not production, but shipments and sales. These are popularly referred to as "distribution."
The number of cars loaded with freight by Class I railways in the United States is reported weekly by the American Railway Association. It is sometimes referred to as an index of "primary distribution." The figures are reported as totals and separately for groups, including coal, coke, ore, grain, live stock, forest products, miscellaneous (largely manufactured products), and merchandise less-than-carload freight.
These figures are not without their limitations. First, they make no allowance for differences in tons per car. The same number of cars may be loaded in two periods; but the average number of tons in each load may vary widely, so that the total freight tonnage may not be the same.
Second, they make no allowance for the length of haul, though that is chiefly important from the point of view of the carriers.
Third, the totals are largely influenced by coal and other mineral products.
In the fourth place, the less-than-carload merchandise loadings, which are often referred to as an index of trade, show no very close relation to the trend of business, and upon examination it appears that the meaning of a less-than-carload ship