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January 2021: Trailer Sales Repeat Truck Sales’ Footsteps

It is probably a surprise to nobody that truck sales for any given month has a similar pattern as trailer sales, namely that as truck sales increase, trailer sales tend to increase as well. Last month’s truck sales yielded positive or negative results depending on the angle it was approached; trailer sales did the same.

The Numbers

ACT, one of the companies that also compiles truck sales data, pins net U.S. trailer order sales for January 2021 at just above 30,000.

This is a 30% decrease compared to December 2020, but a 105% surge compared to January 2020. As with truck sales, the fact that sales doubled from last year despite being in a short-term global pandemic of a scale not seen since the influenza pandemic of 1918 (“short-term” being a period of fewer than five years, with the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic having gone on for four decades).

Frank Maly, director of CV transportation analysis and research at ACT Research, says these sales are unsustainable as more trailers are bought than produced. “Open production slots now come with 2022 dates, and OEMs, concerned about component and materials costs, are hesitant to extend pricing commitments that far.”

Conclusion

As trailer sales outpace production, it is hard to say how long higher-than-year-over-year truck and trailer sales will last, but it is fair to say that is should at least run at least until June, as the sales numbers for the worst days of the pandemic were extremely low, with April 2020 not even breaking 1,000 net trailer sales. It will be interesting to see how high of a percent increase in year-over-year sales occurs in April 2021.

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