In the March edition of our Coyote Insights newsletter, we asked readers — both shippers and carriers — to weigh in on how they anticipated the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease would impact their business over the next month.
In April, we asked them to provide an update with what they actually experienced.
The results are in. Here's what we learned.
Carrier: April Response
Carrier respondents* were clear: the coronavirus' impact to their businesses has been severe. 74% of respondents agreed that it has been much more difficult to find loads over the past month.
Only 8% of carriers thought it was easier or neutral to source freight volume.
As sheltering-in-place measures continue, at least for the immediate future, it's not going to get any easier.
For a more in-depth look at current market conditions and an updated forecast, read our Chief Strategy Officer's latest analysis.
Carrier: March Expectations vs. April Reality
We asked carriers a similar question in last month's poll, sent out in mid-March, right when the impact of COVID-19 was really starting to impact the U.S. supply chain.
Instead of a retrospective view, we asked respondents* how they anticipated their ability to access freight opportunities would be impacted in the coming month.
How did perception compare with what actually happened?
Based on our survey, carriers underestimated the negative impact that COVID-19 disruption would have, as the month turned out to be much more difficult than most imagined.
This makes sense — at the time when most respondents took the survey (2nd week of March), many consumers were panic-buying a wide range of products, the spot market was very active, and not everything was shut down yet.
We had a similar outlook at the time, anticipating a short-term shipping spike that would last two to three months. As we noted in our updated April market forecast, the short-term turned out to be only two to three weeks.
Shipper: April Response
Unsurprisingly, shippers have also been negatively impacted, with 40% noting a significant reduction in volume. However, the overall response was much more mixed compared to carriers.
Many shippers* — particularly those that ship to grocery stores and/or have a heavy ecommerce footprint — are surging right now, with 28% noting an increase in volume.
To learn more about current consumer trends driving demand, watch our recent panel discussion with 4 supply chain experts, including the President and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, available on demand.
Shipper: March Expectation vs. April Reality
Shippers were a bit more pessimistic than carriers, with 25% of March respondents* expecting an increase in volume (vs. 39% of carriers who thought it'd be easier to source freight).
52% of March respondents expected a decrease in volume vs. actual performance of 58%.
Similar to carriers, the actual impact of the COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be more profound than shippers anticipated.
- The coronavirus is having a profound impact on truckload volume.
- The April reduction of shipping volume was greater than either shippers or carriers anticipated in back in mid-March.
- A vast majority of carriers are having a tough time keeping their fleets loaded.
- Many shippers are also slowing down, but the impact is more varied vs. carriers.
- As long as lower volumes continue, many carriers will have to start parking some, or all, of their trucks.
Want Insights Like This Delivered to Your Inbox?
Sign up for our monthly Coyote Insights newsletter.
*Respondent totals were as follows: April, Carrier: n=252; April, Shipper: n=80; March, Carrier: n=142; March, Shipper: n=81.
Correction: an earlier version of this article was published with the March Shipper figures portrayed in the incorrect order. We apologize for any inconvenience.