Truck productivity, e-commerce activity – and even truck speeds – climbed across the U.S. last year in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s no surprise that the transportation industry has felt the impact of Covid, but we’ve seen some recovery – with many smaller fleets being impacted to the point of shutting down, while larger fleets have gained business and grown,” Omnitracs observes in its inaugural Industry Intelligence Report.
Its telematics data shows that the nature of freight is changing as well.
“The Amazon Effect is real,” it notes, referring to growing e-commerce activities. “Last-mile fleets continued to meet the demand of growth in e-commerce by servicing more stops. In fact, 21% more stops were serviced in 2020, compared to 2019, with growth on an upward trajectory after the April pandemic dip.”
And remember when consumers were hoarding toilet paper last spring?
“That industry sector responded with an abnormal increase of miles driven in March, followed by a significant dip when supplies ran out. Although not as fast as we would have all liked, supplies finally returned to normal,” Omnitracs says.
Sporting goods and alcohol
Another shift was seen in the sporting goods sector, which saw shipments nosedive in April only to resurge in May.
“From Pelotons to ellipticals to driveway hoops, we looked for new ways to stay active. Of course, whatever goes up must come down,” the report notes. “As the sector plummeted after initial demand went away and the supply chain was squeezed.”
Alcohol shipments were affected as well.
“Both grocery and alcohol deliveries declined in April and May, but alcohol declined less. As lockdowns increased, and people realized they would be home longer, the market experienced a massive amount of alcohol delivery growth from June through September,” Omnitracs says.
Manufacturing-related shipments that dropped in April and May peaked in October.
“The retail sector ground to a halt in April. It quickly rebounded as consumers got used to ordering online, no-contact pickup, and realizing they didn’t need to live without their favorite things,” Omnitracs says.
Lighter traffic volumes associated with pandemic-related lockdowns saw another change.
Average speeds increased to 57.6 km/h in 2020, compared to the 54.07 km/h seen in 2019. They reached a peak of 60.03 km/h in April and May.
With the uneven demand throughout the pandemic, there were fluctuations in driver utilization. It trended downward in the first third of the year, but increased in the number of miles driven as of September. Still, that was down from January 2020.