Freight Marketplace: What Lies Ahead?

President’s Message

anne reinke

LAST MONTH, I dedicated this space to talking about New Year’s Resolutions. This month, I want to talk about predictions. Predictions about the logistics industry are fervently sought by not only industry participants but also industry watchers. We are all trying to make sense of what has been the most consistently elevated market in history. Sure, we have had volume highs before (does 2018 come screaming back at anyone?), but never this high for this many months—more than 17 months and counting!

That we can count on enormously helpful data to interpret from our members DAT and Truckstop.com, and that we can count on a wonderfully talented economist, Noël Perry, to interpret this data, is yet another reason why TIA makes our members better and more successful. TIA’s Quarterly Market Report uses our members’ data to look backward and explain what our members in the Truckload, LTL and Intermodal space experienced. By understanding the past quarter, we can better predict what the quarters ahead of us will hold. TIA Vice Chair Mark Christos and TIA’s Cindy Amos ensure that the report is timely and relevant to our members, with data that is not commercially available. If you don’t yet receive the Market Report, please reach out to Cindy at amos@tianet.org.

So, what do the quarters ahead hold? Well, that depends on who you ask. But Noël Perry and others believe that while the volumes we see today will flatten out, we do not anticipate that occurring until later in the year, and even then, volumes will normalize rather than shrink. The supply chain congestion and rise of inflation will mean that are members won’t yet see “normal” business conditions.

I urge you to read Noël’s column in this month’s magazine, titled The Return of Inflation and the Impact on the Supply Chain for a full debrief of what he anticipates for the rest of the year. Many of you may know that Noël has announced that 2022 is his last year as a practicing economist. After 54 years in the freight market and 11 years as TIA’s chief economist, he has earned the right to exit the industry gracefully and focus on other things. While Noël is an Eagles fan, and sometimes pessimistic about the sustained health of the economy, his judgment is sound, and he and I have bonded over our days at CSX and comparing the more static railroad industry to the ever-changing trucking industry. We will appreciate working with him this year, and then will look forward to hearing about his singing, golf and gardening pursuits in the future!

So, what are your predictions? How long do you think the market will be elevated? What are the biggest headwinds you are experiencing? All eyes are on our industry because of the visibility we have into all aspects of the freight marketplace, and because of the tools we invest in to help our customers be successful. So, your input is critical in telling the story as we enhance our reputation as subject matter experts. Please send me an email with any predictions or impressions you have about 2022—I can be reached at reinke@tianet.org. The more we understand how you are faring, the better we can represent you.

As always, thank you for all you do for the industry, and we appreciate your membership.