Last month, sales on heavy duty trucks waned dramatically. At the same time, retailers were reporting that the trucking industry met the demand for capacity loads, and that there was enough inventory delivered to fill customer orders into the new year. While some speculators are taking this information and pointing to the idea that the trucking industry has passed peak capacity demand, the economic reality points to something else.

Heavy Duty Trucks Are Ahead of Schedule

The direction of tariffs and taxes often guide our economy, and by extension, the trucking industry. The potential of tariffs on products coming into the United States prompted retailers to prepare for the holiday rush well in advance of normal timelines. This ended up placing a major strain on the trucking industry, and sales on heavy duty trucks remained high throughout 2018 in order to meet the demand for capacity loads. However, the renewed topic of tariffs earlier this month cause seasonal retailers to load up on inventory for spring. The reason that sales of heavy duty trucks did not spike one last time is that most fleets already had them from earlier in the year. Trucking companies simply dedicated them to hauling shipments of spring inventory for retailers, which has a much lower volume than the annual holiday rush.

Looking Ahead

While the state of international trade and tariffs still remains up in the air, the trucking industry is bracing for new surges of high-capacity shipments. The big difference between now and the start of 2018 is that the industry is prepared with added heavy duty trucks. Spring, summer, autumn, and even next year’s holiday rush should be covered. There were also lessons learned by both shippers and haulers regarding the most efficient use of heavy duty trucks. The demand for high capacity and availability frequently came in conflict, with large trucks being used for small shipments simply because they were available. This led to some heavy duty trucks only carrying a small percentage of their total capacity and making supply lines run inefficiently. As we move into 2019 we can hope that the new year will bring more business and better efficiency so the trucking industry can lead the growing economic trends.