INSIDE THE NUMBERS:Motor carrier executives less optimistic about freight volumes in 2013

Truck News

TORONTO, Ont. – Canadian motor carrier executives are less optimistic about freight volume growth in 2013 than they were a year ago, results from our annual Transportation Buying Trends survey indicate.

The national survey, completed in December and early January, shows that only 37% of responding Canadian motor carrier executives expect shipment volumes to be higher in 2013. In comparison, 44% thought likewise a year ago.  The majority of respondents (51%) believed freight volumes would stay about the same.

The annual survey is conducted by our research division in partnership with the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association, Cormark Securities and CITT.

Our research also tracks Canadian shipper projections for freight volume growth, employing a separate survey conducted in late fall. Those survey findings are cause for a small degree of optimism. Shippers are more upbeat about shipment volumes in 2013 than carriers are with 53% forecasting volume growth (compared to 49% in 2012). Shippers traditionally tend to have a more optimistic view of freight volume projections but it’s also reassuring that we found fewer shippers ( 8%) forecasting a contraction in their volumes in 2013, compared to the 19% who said likewise 2012.

There were also fewer carrier executives surveyed who expected a drop in their freight volumes in 2013 compared to the previous year. Only 11% projected a drop in business versus 18% the previous year.

This divide in carrier projections is borne out by research conducted by the American Trucking Associations stateside. While large carriers in the US are doing better, small carriers actually experienced a 4.6% drop in freight volumes from September 2011 to August 2012.

Another positive note from our survey is that of the Canadian shippers forecasting growth in freight volumes in 2013, the majority expect to grow their business with trucking. Our mode by mode net growth analysis shows 31% net growth for LTL, the highest of all the modes. That is followed by 29% net growth for intermodal and 22% for TL. In comparison, other modes such as air cargo and marine are forecast to have considerably lower net growth – 9% and 17%, respectively. (Net growth is the sum of the percentage of shippers planning to increase freight volumes placed with a particular mode minus the percentage of shippers forecasting a decrease in volumes placed with that mode.)

Our annual Transportation Buying Trends surveys, conducted since 2004, probe motor carrier and shipper executives on a number of key issues, including rates, surcharges, capacity additions and overall business confidence. Watch for more results on this site in the days to come.  The research is also presented to interested industry and educational groups across the country.

More than 100 motor carrier executives across the country responded to the carrier version of the survey. More than 300 Canadian shippers responded to the shipper version of the survey.

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Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.

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