TORONTO, Ont. – Ontario trucking providers are feeling better about business conditions over the next few months, according to the latest Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) Q2 business conditions survey.
Responding fleet managers said uncertainty still prevails, however, they’re seeing freight rebounds in most lanes compared to last winter. The percentage of carriers who feel good about their overall prospects for the next three months rose from 49% in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 62%. About one in five carriers remained pessimistic.
More than a third of carriers reported intra-Ontario freight volumes have improved over the past three months, marking a 13% increase. Inter-provincially, 32% of carriers said volumes grew, a 13% increase over the previous survey and the highest level in the last two years.
Forty-five per cent of responding fleets said southbound loads destined for the US were up. Half of respondents said there was no change to northbound load volumes, while 27% reported improvements.
Forty five percent of carriers predicted an intra-Ontario freight volume upturn in the next six months, OTA reports, more than twice the number who felt that way in the last survey. Thirty-five per cent feel inter-provincial freight will increase, up from 27% who felt that way during the last survey.
“It’s possible the new administration in Washington continues to anchor Ontario carriers’ expectations for southbound volumes, as opinion for that lane seems more polarized than other sectors,” the OTA reports. “The 35% who tout improved volumes is a modest rebound from 4Q16’s meager 27%, but still the second lowest in four years. Consequently – and perhaps an indictment of carriers’ hopes for NAFTA escaping renegotiations unscathed – 23% anticipate decreased volumes, which is double digits higher than at any point since 2013 and the highest level recorded since the 37% at the height of the Great Recession in 2009. Forty-two per cent expect no change, down significantly from the 70% who didn’t foresee much change last winter.”
Carriers also reported stagnant rates, which has been the case for several years. Less than a quarter of respondents feel pricing is improving in any of the four freight lanes OTA includes in its survey.
Nearly half of responding fleets reported no movement in capacity balance, with about a third reporting an increase in capacity. However, 30% indicated capacity will shrink over the next six months, the highest percentage to feel that way in several years.