By Kenneth Cavallaro, Jr., ALC Boston
Trucking recession? According to a recent Bank of America survey, demand for trucks is actually down 58%. Consumers are spending less money on material items such as televisions and clothing and instead funneling more of their hard-earned funds towards services, reports the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Kantar’s Entertainment On Demand streaming analytics reveal streaming subscriptions are up 88% since the beginning of 2022. More people are using companies like DoorDash and Grubhub for food delivery. Meanwhile, electricity prices are expected to climb on an average of 20% across the United States this winter and natural gas costs are predicted to increase 36% according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, presumably further leading to less discretionary spending on material items. What does this mean for the trucking industry?
Our industry is all about supply and demand. The latest data from S&P Global Market Intelligence shows freight rates have continued to fall as global trade volumes slow due to shrinking demand for goods. Freight rate forecasters utilizing the Cass Index have indicated that “freight rates are leveling off and set to slow sharply in the months to come.” So yes folks, we are truly in a trucking recession. Thankfully, with 70% of all goods in the United States moved by the trucking industry, this will eventually resolve. The last recession hit in 2007 and lasted almost two years.
So where do we go from here? Federal investment in our country’s roads, highways, and bridges over the next four years will make it easier for trucks to make on-time deliveries. Drivers will likely see their lives improved by programs like our innovative ALC tracking app, which creates an easier flow of information and allows better estimating on loading and unloading times once they reach shippers or receivers. In addition, our app supports better tracking and provides us with an easily accessible timeline of how the customer’s load is progressing.
Transportation of produce and other refrigerated items leads to even higher rates, partially because of increased fuel usage during wait times for loading and offloading, as the load must be kept at a precise and constant temperature. In addition, wait times are frequently increased when produce coming fresh from the field needs time to cool or produce coming off the truck must undergo quality inspections. Situations such as these increase the amount of fuel the truck requires to keep the reefer running, causing the rates for produce transportation to soar higher than rates to transport non-perishable goods.
With many trucking companies struggling due to the harsh conditions of the current market, company mergers are coming more into play. More trucking companies will likely move in this direction in 2023 if the market does not improve. This would allow more companies to stay afloat, instead of lessening the amount of trucks on the road. Continued urbanization will also allow truckers to traverse parts of the country that were previously off-limits, allowing deliveries to reach more people in less time. There will always be peaks and valleys as we ride this trucking rollercoaster, so buckle up, pull down the lap bar, and hang on for dear life because it is going to be a bumpy ride.
Kenneth Cavallaro, Jr. is a Senior Transportation Broker in the Boston office. He began his career at the Allen Lund Company in February of 2019. Kenneth has been in the transportation industry since May of 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Salem State University.