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September 2020: Trailer Sales Almost Break Record

Freight Transportation Research (FTR) has been tracking trailer sales for a very long time. It means a lot when September 2020 was the third-highest month for trailer sales since they started keeping track.

The Details

August’s trailer sales, according to FTR, were about 28,700. Now, for September, trailer sales reached 52,000, according to preliminary numbers.

We have been saying that trailer sales have been rising like a rocket since the bottom of the pandemic, as the industry really had nowhere to go but up, but the rate at which these trailer sales increase, there might be a need to invent a new word for how fast it is climbing. Sales are 81% higher than previous month, and more than double what was sold in September 2019.

Don Ake, FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles, wonders how long this boom can sustain itself. “This appears to be a repeat of late-2018 when fleets ordered trailers in record numbers in September and October because of tight capacity and perceived limited build slots at the OEMs,” Ake said. “There could be some irrational exuberance behind orders this high. Fleets are expecting the current conditions to continue well into 2021, and this may not be the case.”.

Conclusion

At the end of our August article, we said nobody knew what trailer sales would be for September until the numbers came in, but that we predicted it would be an exponential growth. We think an 88% increase from the prior month is large enough to be considered exponential.

What will be interesting to see is how October performs. Normally a ho-hum time for purchasing vehicles, the shift in demand timing resulting from the coronavirus pandemic may lead to it having record sales again. To grow 88% again, though, sales would need to be 97,760, which is borderline impossible. Our prediction is that the October number will be higher than September’s sales, but only by a few thousand.

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