Over three quarters of carriers surveyed by Transport Capital Partners continue to be optimistic for the year ahead.
TCP’s 1st Quarter 2012 Business Expectations Survey found that 77 percent of the carriers surveyed expect volumes to increase in the year ahead, and only 2.6 percent expecting volumes to decrease.
Larger carriers are much more optimistic by a factor of almost 25 percent.
“As the economy recovers with increasing consumer confidence buoying retail growth the first quarter, carriers are seeing earlier volumes and tight capacity boding well for the next year,” observes Richard Mikes, TCP partner.
“Cost pressure, including driver scarcity, will likely keep carriers well aware of the need to maintain margins to afford new replacement trucks as they look ahead to lowered truck utilization with new HOS regulations in mid 2013,” stated Lana Batts, TCP partner.
Despite this optimism, the expectations for rate increases are higher than actual freight rate increases over the last three months.
Only 45 percent have seen rate increases recently, compared to 50 percent in November of 2011, and nearly 60 percent in August of 2011.
“The diversity of rate increases among types of carriers and the normal seasonality expectations may be playing out early-on in the first quarter. The focus of most carriers may have been to keep trucks busy to keep drivers on the payroll and to ensure that volumes did not dip,” says Mikes.
If volumes follow the same pattern as 2011, the possibility of a generally upwards rate trend over the coming year with a rate spike in early summer seems likely, added Batts.