TRANSPORTATION COSTS DOWN AS SHARE OF SALES: REPORT

MIAMI -- Transportation costs as a percentage of sales for wholesalers and retail chains declined last year, according to a new industry study.The study indicated a decline from 2.03% last year to 1.91% in 1996 in transportation costs as a percentage of sales for food wholesalers.Self-distributing retailers, on the other hand, experienced a decline from 1.27% last year to 1.16% this year in transportation

MIAMI -- Transportation costs as a percentage of sales for wholesalers and retail chains declined last year, according to a new industry study.

The study indicated a decline from 2.03% last year to 1.91% in 1996 in transportation costs as a percentage of sales for food wholesalers.

Self-distributing retailers, on the other hand, experienced a decline from 1.27% last year to 1.16% this year in transportation costs as a percentage of sales.

The 1996 Wholesale/Retail Transportation and Fleet Maintenance Report was presented during last month's Productivity Conference here, sponsored by Food Distributors International, Falls Church, Va., and the Grocery Manufacturers of America, Washington.

Transportation costs per stop dropped $8 on average, from $238 last year to $230 this year, for food wholesalers. The average cost per stop for retail chains was $76; this is the first time this figure, along with cost per route, $154, was tracked in the report, authored by Richard Kochersperger, professor for the Center for Food Marketing at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia.

In contrast, cost per route for wholesale food distributors jumped from $494 last year to $527 in 1996, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the 1996 transportation cost per mile for wholesalers increased by 7%, nearly 15 cents a mile, over the cost reported last year. But retail chains experienced a decline of 17%, or 22 cents per mile.

Kochersperger said the report points out that companies have minimal funds for employee development. Future industry needs include qualified drivers, upgraded management skills and management education as well as computer support and funds for equipment replacement.

He also noted the need to improve productivity measurement systems, and a "strong need for uniformity in measuring industry/department performance."