It is expected that capacity will remain tight for the trucking industry for the next 12 months; however, Titan Transline expects that the truck freight market could recover fully in the later part of 2021. Truckloads may return to pre-pandemic levels but the problem will be the limited driver pool.
According to Avery Vise, FTR vice-president of trucking, they expect a full recovery in truck loadings by the 3rd quarter of 2021. From the data in the spot market, it can be assumed that the trucking industry has fully recovered but the fact is spot market is only about a third of the total truck freight market.
FTR predicts that truck loadings will increase by more than 5% in 2021. This is good news after the 4% decline in 2020. The segment of the flatbed is expected to have the biggest increase at more than 6%; however, it is also the segment that took the biggest hit last year. Dry van, refrigerated, and specialized trucking options are also expected to grow by about 6% from last year.
Meanwhile, Vise has stressed that there is considerable risk to the prediction because there are more downside risks than there is an upside. If loading growth does not match the expectations, the capacity side will keep market conditions healthy if not robust. After the disaster of 2020, there is no normal anymore.
It does not require a team of economic experts to explain that the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a substantial deviation from normal trends. 2020 was unprecedented times and there are no reliable means to predict the transportation market. If freight increases this year, trucking companies will be pressured to hire more drivers but that is until the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available on a larger scale.
One good thing for trucking companies is current conditions are not expected to continue throughout 2021. Pandemic-related issues will be resolved because of the presence of vaccines and the industry will return to normal as consumers spend more and fleets get the equipment they need. But while 2021 may be a good year for the logistics and trucking industry, it won’t be a spectacular year unless the economy grows faster.