Ordering on Amazon is the easiest way to get goods. Two days with Prime and free, of course. Easy returns at Kohls. But that new way of getting goods is grinding the gears of the trucking industry. And we haven’t even seen the worst of it as we are approaching the holidays.
Full semitrailers aren’t the real problem. We need more drivers but most young people are not looking to the roads for a career. This means a serious lack of capacity – the worst we’ve ever seen. Todd Maiden covers the topic for Freightwaves.com tracking many troubling statistics.
“Clearly consumer-facing firms are struggling to find the capacity needed to meet the increasing consumer appetite for home delivery,” the report stated. “It is interesting that logistics capacity is already this pressed at the end of Q3. Traditionally Q4 is when we see peak logistics demand, so the fact that it’s already close to maximum utilization calls into question whether or not missed or late deliveries will become an issue through peak retail times in November and December.”
Peak times are starting next week for two solid months. Higher prices and possible late deliveries due to a lack of drivers will be the status quo. The strain will really impact LTL carriers but can also affect semi shipments and box truck deliveries. “Growth rates in the logistics industry are roaring” because of e-commerce, the report said. And e-commerce is not letting up, especially this year with COVID and folks doing more online.
We wrote back in 2018 about Walmart doubling its spending to find and keep new drivers. They were pushing back then to keep up with demand. Most recently in March of this year, Walmart claimed they were trying to hire 500 more drivers. We are following up to see if they were successful and how the rest of the freight industry is doing to secure more drivers. We will continue to update as we find out more.
So what does this all mean? It’s a supply and demand dilemma. We hope the trucking and transportation industry will continue to grow or the e-commerce goliaths will find a better way to get distribution handled.
Either way, we are in it together for the long haul and will do everything we can to help ensure your products get there on time. I would suggest giving yourself an extra day or two for important events, given the current state of affairs. We will be at the mercy of the carriers for some time.