During 2020 alone, more than 88,000 trucking industry jobs were lost and more than 3,000 trucking companies closed. The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the trucking industry, causing changes in demand for certain goods and new challenges for truck drivers.
As we move into 2023 and beyond, the industry continues to adapt.
According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), the pandemic's impact on trucking can be summarized in three phases: initial disruption, recovery and transformation. The initial disruption occurred when many businesses shut down or reduced operations, leading to a decrease in demand for certain goods and services. The recovery phase saw an increase in demand for essential goods, which put pressure on the supply chain and the trucking industry. Finally, the transformation phase, which is ongoing, has seen significant changes in consumer behavior, technology and supply chain operations.
One of the most significant changes in demand that emerged during the pandemic was for essential goods such as medical supplies, groceries and cleaning products. This trend has continued as we move into 2023, with the ongoing demand for essential goods driving growth in the trucking industry. The trucking industry is expected to grow at a rate of 4.4% from 2021 to 2026, driven by the demand for essential goods.
In addition to the ongoing demand for essential goods, trucking is also adapting to changes in consumer behavior as we move beyond the pandemic. According to a report by eMarketer, U.S. e-commerce sales grew by 32.4% in 2020, and the trend is expected to continue increasing.
The major rise of e-commerce and online shopping has led to an increase in the demand for last-mile delivery services. This has created opportunities for trucking companies that specialize in last-mile delivery, as well as challenges in terms of managing the last-mile delivery process efficiently.
Another trend that is emerging is the increasing use of technology to improve efficiency and safety. Trucking companies are investing in new technologies such as telematics and GPS tracking. We’re also seeing an increased focus on autonomous vehicles to streamline operations and reduce cost. According to a report by the American Transportation Research Institute, the adoption of technology in the trucking industry is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.