[WHITE PAPER] The 2021 freight market outlook forecast

Fergus CaldicottFreight Market Blog, White Papers


The societal and economic challenges of 2020 have constructed a positive outlook for transportation in 2021.  

It would be an oversight to kick off a 2021 outlook without addressing the structural changes to supply and demand as a result of what 2020 materialized into. A number of fundamental changes to consumer activity,  industrial production,  housing starts, and federal stimulus are just a few of the major buckets that have driven one of the most significant nationwide levels of freight volatility.  

The traditional  67/33  split of services/goods moved closer to  60/40,  which was a  tailwind for the transportation market as spending on goods creates more freight than services.  This was in part due to a  strong housing market on the back of de-urbanization.  In addition, e-commerce’s already strong secular trend accelerated through the period as the nation stayed home while still purchasing goods for delivery, enhancing the outlook for final-mile delivery. And while 1H20 was shrouded with the uncertainty of the pandemic, 2H20 revealed growth through the measure of the  Purchasing  Managers  Index  (PMI),  which is a  strong leading indicator headed into  1H21.  In spite of all of the volatility in freight markets,  freight demand finished strong and sets up 2021 for a positive start. 

This report encompasses the full breadth and depth of the  FreightWaves  Market  Intelligence platform, including Passport Research and our market experts team. The insights generated are the product of a deep bench of domain experts backed by the proprietary data and analytics housed in SONAR. 

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As a note, SONAR and Passport Research customers receive this annual report among monthly reports to aid in keeping the market participant up to date on the freight market.