April 2012 trucking conditions
Trucking companies remain worried most about finding enough drivers, but it’s a substantially bigger concern for larger carriers than smaller ones, according to the latest Randall-Reilly MarketPulse survey. Nearly 60% of executives at trucking companies with more than 100 trucks said that driver availability was their top concern in April. That figure was 44% at carriers with 100 trucks or fewer, though it was still the top concern. The most striking difference, however, is that more than 22% of smaller carriers picked fuel costs as their top concern while fewer than 4% of larger carriers did so. Smaller carriers typically are affected more by the short-term cash strains of rising fuel prices caused by the lag between the booking of surcharges and the receipt of surcharge payments.
Business conditions seemed generally favorable with more than 46% reporting better conditions in April than in March and another 39% saying business was the same. Nearly 72% of carriers expect business conditions to be better in six months, adjusting for seasonality. And all but 6% plan to either grow their fleets or replace equipment in the next six months.
The April survey included special questions related to fleet replacement and expansion in both 2011 and 2012. More than a third of carriers replaced 20% or more of their fleets in 2011, although more than 46% had no expansion. And just over a third of carriers plan ot replace at least 20% of their fleets in 2012 while more than half expect either no expansion or expansion by less than 5%.