We’re sure you’re hoping for better things to come in 2021 – we are too! When it comes to your supply chain and small business shipping strategy, and we have some good news to share with you! Although 2020 was a year nobody could predict, the trucking industry faced the challenges head-on and carried its weight well, setting up successes on the horizon on the eve of 2021 that shippers should also be excited for. Leave your crystal ball in storage because we already looked into the future for you and found these 2021 trucking trends and predictions to look out for in the year ahead.
The Impact of 2020
It’s hard to see many positive impacts from 2020, but there are some. To look forward, it’s important to know what’s happened in the recent past and the current-standing situation. Despite lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions on travel, the freight business itself is an industry that showed strong performances in many ways in 2020. According to FreightWaves, as of late July 2020, contracted truckload volumes are up 27% year-over-year in addition to delivery at terminal (DAT) national spot rates rising to 30% above 2019 levels. And, both shipments and freight spend reportedly fell less than U.S. GDP overall as the economic decline affected service businesses the most.
This upswinging momentum is expected to carry into the next year, especially as the economy as-a-whole battles through a transition from recession back to the booming economy we all enjoyed before COVID-19.
Trucking Expectations for 2021
A transition period like this one means the year ahead will be a strong one for truckers. According to JTL Truck Driver Training’s Trucking Industry Outlook for 2021, increased driver hiring, wages, and demand are all expected for 2021. In fact, FTR Transportation Intelligence and Transport Topics are predicting, truck freight will grow 6% in 2021, and this growth is expected despite the unpredictability of COVID-19.
As you probably know, trucking proved to be an extremely essential enterprise in 2020, moving essential items and keeping supply chains active during a very troubling time. Additionally, as the coronavirus vaccine is distributed across the nation, more specialized cold chain equipment and drivers will also be needed. Between shipping the vaccine and the things needed for the vaccine as well essential items, trucking companies will need more drivers to deal with the increased demand. This increased demand means truckers will be better paid and have higher job security.
Other Major Trends
Shifting customer behaviors in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 took some getting used to for businesses everywhere but ended up boosting the trucking industry. Increased online shopping for the holidays helped eCommerce businesses and freight companies alike stay busy and made the holidays the busiest time of the year for shipping.
As online shopping becomes the undisputed new normal for commerce, more businesses can ship, more trucks can be filled, and more drivers will be needed, but at what true cost? Two main challenges shippers may face during 2021 are:
- Finding capacity. Although digital freight matching makes it easier for carriers to fill their capacity, the increased demand and volume of other shippers needing capacity could make it difficult for you to find the solutions you need in a timely, affordable manner.
- Increased shipping rates. Demand changes and capacity fulfillment market conditions impact freight rates. Based on the currently expected conditions, anticipate higher rates than usual.
Even though finding capacity and increased shipping rates are challenges shippers may face in the new year, it doesn’t mean bad news for you when you work with a shipping partner, like FreightCenter, who can help you source capacity and save with get great shipping rates.
Don't Go it Alone in 2021
Although 2021 looks like it’ll be a good year for freight, it could also be challenging for supply chain and small business operators. With so much change happening so fast, it’s easy to fall behind. A third-party logistics company (3PL) like FreightCenter has the tools and resources you need to stay ahead of the game.