BOISE, Idaho – Carriers are optimistic about growth in volume and rates this year, despite rising fuel and equipment costs that are squeezing profitability, according to the latest Bloomberg | Truckstop.com survey, which polled owner-operators and small fleets.
“Bullishness has stayed at a historical high for carriers despite recent spot-market volatility,” Lee Klaskow, senior freight transportation and logistics analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said.
“The past three months have been a tale of the haves and have-nots when it comes to volume growth. Load growth could trend higher sequentially into May, providing some support to spot rates.”
The survey shows:
- Owner-operators remain optimistic about demand: About 72% of respondents expect load growth over the next six months vs. 71% in 4Q and 1Q a year ago. Temperature-controlled carriers were most optimistic with 77% expecting higher volume, followed by 74% of flatbed carriers who are benefiting from a strong housing market.
- Fewer carriers are optimistic when looking at rates: About 55% of respondents expect spot rates (ex-fuel surcharges) to rise in the next six months vs. 59% in 4Q. About 14% of carriers expect rates to decline over the next 3-6 six months, in-line with historical averages. Only 2% of truckers polled expect rates to drop quickly this year and another 32% expect them to slowly moderate.
- More carriers are hauling fewer loads: Truckload spot demand rose 4.3% year-over-year in 1Q, based on the Bloomberg | Truckstop.com survey, a seventh straight quarterly gain after dropping 16% in 2Q20 as the pandemic began. Median volume growth was closer to flat, given the wide divide between those carriers experiencing growth and those not moving as many loads. About 37% of respondents hauled more loads vs. 1Q21. About 32% recorded a drop vs. 25% in 4Q21 as the number of carriers who experienced flat volume decreased to 31% sequentially from 38%.
- Rising fuel costs are a concern for carriers: About 56% of carriers said that higher fuel costs are the industry’s biggest challenge. Lower rates are the second-biggest concern in 2022 at 21% of the sample, followed by the weakening economy (16%). Despite these concerns, about 69% of those surveyed anticipate the truckload market will remain tight this year.
“Carriers polled for this survey remain relatively positive despite the headwinds facing the industry from rising fuel and equipment costs,” Kendra Tucker, chief executive officer at Truckstop.com, said.
“We keep carriers’ businesses moving and their bottom line growing by providing them with the technology solutions they need to navigate these industry fluctuations, which is especially crucial during times when the market changes so drastically.
The Bloomberg | Truckstop.com survey of owner-operators and small fleets provides timely channel checks into the health of the spot market. The sample size was 126, consisting of dry-van, flatbed, temperature-controlled and specialized/diversified carriers. Of the respondents, 60% operate just one tractor.
The complete survey is available to Bloomberg Terminal subscribers via BI.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.