Indeed, the latest downgrade to the outlook for truck production rates in 2017 – combined with the ongoing slump in Class 8 orders and weakening used Class 8 prices – isn’t exactly making the near-future look any rosier for motor carriers.
At the heart of it all are freight volumes, which may be more “normal” than many in trucking might think.
If a good, solid uptick in volumes occurs over the coming months, trucking would certainly benefit – in the form of more demand for capacity. If not … well, the industry is kind of stuck in such a spot already.
That’s why a new report charting an increase in optimism among small business owners in the U.S. may be a good sign for trucking – especially if that optimism turns into sales, which then turns into freight.
Despite the uncertainty of the U.S. presidential election and the holiday shopping season, most small business owners are optimistic about their prospects, according to the inaugural 2016 Fall/Winter Chase Business Leaders Outlook report compiled by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
About two-thirds of the nearly 900 small business owners polled by Chase said they are optimistic about their business over the next 12 months and 55% felt the same way about their industry.
However, only 49% were optimistic about their local economy and 42% about the national economy – and both of those have dropped in each of the past two surveys.
“Most small business owners are still bullish about their own growth, just as they were in our spring survey,” noted Laura Miller, president of U.S. Small Business for Chase Commerce Solutions, in a statement.
“With the holidays approaching, most predict increases in online sales, and almost half predict their customers will spend more this year,” she said.
- Here are a few more highlights from this small business poll:
59% of small businesses expect more holiday online shopping purchases this holiday season over last year.
- 46% expect an increase in customer spending.
- 40% expect the shopping season to start earlier.
- 33% plan to keep longer hours.
- 65% of small businesses are optimistic about their own company’s performance, with optimism on the economy strongest closer to home – consistent from previous years.
- 59% of small U.S. businesses plan to borrow this year, up from 52% in 2015, with 18% of them seeking to buy and repair equipment, 13% wanting to purchase and 11% looking to expand their operations.
Those are just a few trends to keep in mind as we head into the fourth quarter of the year. And let’s hope they end up bringing good cheer to the freight markets, too.