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.
The Bloomberg | Truckstop.com 1Q22 Truckload 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.
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.
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