Market Overview

Moving Industry Slowly Regaining Momentum

Americans are on the move again; pulling up stakes and seeking out new locations as the economy slowly recovers.

Census data analyzed last month by USA Today found U.S. “domestic migration” was at its highest level in five years – with close to 17 million people moving between counties in 2012. Long-distance moving is also on the the rise, with interstate moves up nearly five percent compared to 2010.

Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire told the newspaper the recession forced many people to stay put, as they waited for jobs to open up and home values to rise. And while the new figures may not be overwhelming, he says, it shows “at least a thawing” in the nation's financial landscape.

That data appears to be backed up by stats from the moving and storage industry. A survey earlier this year by Mayflower found the number of residential moves were up nearly 19 percent between January and April – during what are, historically, the slowest months for the moving industry – compared to that time period in 2012.

And last week Amerco (NASDAQ: UHAL), the parent company of U-Haul, reported second quarter net earnings of $138 million, or $7.06 per share, compared with $109.4 million, or $5.61 per share, during the second quarter of 2012.

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Amerco also saw rental revenues from its self-moving equipment rise 11 percent, an increase of $60.6 million, for the second quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to that same time period for fiscal 2013. Self-storage revenues also increased – with the company adding about 2.2 million net rentable square feet to its portfolio.

Not all the figures have been uniformly rosy, however. The American Moving & Storage Association says the industry's shipment volume for all household goods – private, corporate, military and government – was down 1.4 percent through the third quarter of this year, compared to the same time period in 2012.

The one bright spot is the private household goods market, which has seen a six percent increase so far this year,” Scott Michael, the Assocation's vice-president, said in an email to Benzinga. “All other sectors are down, with military personal property moves down more than 15 percent. Overall shipment numbers for the first half of the year were down 1.5 percent over last year.”

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