That data is officially in, from both Freight Transportation Research (FTR) and Americas Commercial Transportation (ACT). Even if you predicted a surge in trailer sales for August, the numbers will surprise you.
ACT and FTR report slightly different numbers, but both support the same trend: August was a killer month for trailer sales in the trucking industry.
- ACT reports 27,500 trailer sales. Before cancellations, total orders were around 29,000.
- Data on ACT’s July numbers is elusive (we were unable to report on it in the previous article, for example), but ACT reports a 150% year-over-year increase, meaning August 2020 sales were about 250% of what they were in August 2019.
- FTR pegs the number at 28,700 trailer sales. 1,200 more than ACT’s conservative estimate.
- Compared to July, ACT has August sales at 49% higher, and compared to the same month last year, ACT has it at 174% higher.
FTR vice president Don Ake says the increased trailer sales points to the trucking industry recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There was significant pent-up demand for van trailers coming out of the economic shutdowns. Now fleets are feeling much more confident about the freight markets and ordering trailers they would have booked in April or May, under normal conditions,” he says regarding trailer sales numbers. “There was also pent-up demand at the dealer level, with some dealers reporting record sales volumes for July and August, which are traditionally the slowest months of the year. Dealers now are placing restocking orders much sooner than expected.”
Ake’s words imply that this run of record-breaking trailer sales is an anomaly, and should not be expected for August 2021 trailer sales.
ACT director Frank Maly’s words echo those of Ake’s.
The industry continues to improve from meager coronavirus-induced Q2 volumes. Discussions indicate that large fleet orders are the driving factor in recent market improvements. After very weak expectations in late spring, fleets have switched to a much more optimistic tone, supported by both improved freight volumes and rates.”
The number of trailer sales is currently rising so fast that to call it a skyrocket would be a disservice.
Eventually this anomaly of increased trailer (and tractor) sales in what would normally be the slump-months of the year will end, and the trucking industry will return to normal growth. For the time being, though, enjoy the good news. 2020 has been a wild roller coaster from coast to coast, whether it be wildfires or hurricanes, and we can all use a little good news to lift our spirits.
With September almost over, we will soon hear the results for the current month in terms of tractor and trailer sales. Will they exceed August 2020, resulting in exponential growth of sales? Will they fail to pass August 2020 but exceed September 2019 sales? Will a meteor strike and sales will barely hit 1,000 for each? Only time will tell, but because of the trend of previous months, all fingers point to the first scenario.