2020 has been tough all around, but as the year comes to a close, leaders in the industry are taking a look at peak season projections.
As part of a virtual panel discussion on the state of the economy held by ATA’s National Accounting & Finance Council on November 19, three leading economists – American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello, ACT Research President Kenny Vieth, and Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner – remarked on the state of the logistics industry leading into the end of 2020 and into the beginning of 2021…
During the panel, Costello, Vieth, and Vinter remarked that goods are pouring into ports, being delivered by trucks to warehouses and e-commerce locations, and retailers are restocking their shelves as the holiday shopping season gets into full swing. It’s also a major reason why trucking continues to outperform in the overall U.S. economy.
“Freight is pretty good. The spot market is killing it. Contract freight is OK,” Costello said. Home construction has become another strong market in 2020. This has created a significant increase in demand for companies offering flatbed services, especially those that transport lumber and other raw materials, and carriers that make furniture deliveries.
But after peak season is gone and the vaccine is more widely distributed, what will happen next? Many people have become accustomed to the online shopping world and this may continue even as states begin to open up. This could impact last mile and LTL transportation trends. Or, people could crave in-person interactions and we could see a trend back to brick and mortar stores in 2021.
We are still waiting to see what type of stimulus package will be made available and what the damage will be to the economy from the year of COVID.
Wells Fargo’s Vitner said he’s optimistic that by mid-2021 the country will begin to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind as the vaccine is distributed. By summer, he said, half to two-thirds of the country could receive a vaccine, and the economy should begin to stabilize. Let’s hope that is true!
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