ECONOMIC WATCH: ‘Signs of life’ in trailer market, FTR says

by Today's Trucking

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Final net trailer orders for May totaled just 4,300 units, up 1,200% from “dismal” April activity but down 64% year-over-year with elevated cancelations, FTR reported.

All segments saw month-over-month increases, but it appeared fleets were reluctant to replace older trailers and are closely monitoring the freight markets before placing orders for 2020 deliveries.

“Freight demand has started a slow and choppy recovery after hitting the bottom in mid-April. The freight markets should continue to improve as concern about the pandemic wanes and more sectors of the economy reopen. A key area is the manufacturing sector which got severely crunched when many factories shut down, some not reopening until May. Industrial-related freight will take longer to recover than consumer freight,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice-president of commercial vehicles.

“There are signs of life in the trailer market. We expect June orders to be much better than the previous two months. After that, it depends on the speed and strength of the economic recovery. The summer is traditionally a weak time for trailer orders, but the buying cycles have been disrupted. Everything ordered in the next four months should still be for use this year. There is still a fair amount of quote activity happening, it just depends on fleet confidence going forward.”

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