Truckload capacity is tight and expected to get tighter, but judging where truckload demand is headed remains challenging as COVID-19 headwinds ease and increasing tailwinds from the vaccine distribution and economic stimulus converge.
This week is the peak shipping week for flowers ahead of Valentine's Day, and most of the activity is centered on Miami, just 3.5 hours flying time from where the majority of Valentine’s Day roses are grown.
Something we’ve seen over the years is that extended periods of high freight rates tend to lead to higher numbers of new truck orders. We saw it in 2018, and new equipment orders again hit record levels in 2020. This time, the industry is faced with a lot more uncertainty.
We expect 2021 to be very different to 2020. The pandemic resulted in a crash in demand, followed by a capacity crunch, which will make year-over-year comparisons difficult. We don’t have any non-pandemic years in recent enough history to make meaningful comparisons.
In this volatile 2020 freight market we’ve watched wild fluctuations in freight volumes and rates, with most traditional and reputable market indicators reflecting what we see—a bifurcated freight market.
At this stage in the holiday shipping season, demand for logistics services is continuing to grow in both retail and manufacturing sectors, but according to the recent results from the Logistics Managers Index (LMI), “firms cannot add logistics infrastructure quickly enough to keep up with burgeoning demand.”
Last week we reported on several reliable and unbiased industry volume indices (ATA Truckload Tonnage, Cass Freight Index and MSU Surface Transportation Index), which all indicated overall truckload freight volumes are still down year-over-year. This week we take a look at two more freight volume indices.