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Experts see coronavirus impact on trucking industry

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

By Robyn Estabrook -

March 9, 2020

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Experts say the coronavirus is impacting the freight industry, but not how they thought. On Monday, trucks went through Chattanooga as usual.

At FreightWaves, Zach Strickland, the director of freight market intelligence, says they’ve seen volumes go up nearly ten percent over the last week because of coronavirus panic.

“It is kind of contradicting what we were expecting to happen as the Chinese factories shutdown, which is a lot of the volume. It is roughly 22 percent of the trucking market itself. So this surging volume as all of these inventories have been building up over the last year. It is a little, it is not as expected what we thought was going to happen,” Strickland said.

Certain items are in high demand.

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“As they are buying up things like toilet paper, bottled water, things like that. So they have all of these stored in warehouses and they ship them to the retail storefronts. So as people are running out of inventory in the retail storefronts they have to pull them in from the warehouse and distribution centers across the country,” Strickland said.

Experts say this is usually not a busy time of year.

“It is interesting to note that this volume is a surge outside of what we would normally see in the seasonality. Normalcy you would have peak season late June, around July 4th and also around Christmas. So it is a bit of an anomaly to see this level of surging this time of year,” Stickland said.

They’ll be monitoring the situation.

“The market doesn’t have a playbook for it by any means so it is going to be one of those things that is going to be interesting to see whether or not this is sustainable throughout the whole panic or outbreak or whether or not is is one of those things that fades and dies out dramatically. So you could have a very volatile year in the freight market,” Strickland said.

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