Got truck drivers?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
June capped an unprecedented 15-month run of truckload rate increases, according to DAT Solutions, which tracks (non-contract) freight. The national average spot rate for refrigerated loads climbed to $2.69 per mile in June, the highest the company has ever recorded.
“Truckers are experiencing one of the longest sustained periods of pricing power since the industry was deregulated in the 1980s,” said Mark Montague, senior pricing analyst at DAT.
“It’s a good time to have your own fleet for a lot of reasons,” said Brett Biggs, EVP and CFO at Walmart at an investor conference earlier this year. “To have the drivers that we have and the long-tenured associates in that area is so important.”
Indeed, the American Trucking Association estimates that the industry will need to add almost a million new drivers by 2024 to keep up with demand. Considering the tight job market, truck fleets are competing with other industries that can offer more predictable schedules, better pay and less regulatory oversight.
One option? Expand the pool of potential truck drivers, including moves to lower the age requirement to operate heavy trucks in interstate commerce. A new proposed bill would create a graduated license and apprenticeship-style pathway for younger drivers to enter the trucking industry and make interstate moves.
“The truck driver shortage is slowing the movement of commerce in this country, raising consumer prices and wait times for goods,” explained Mark Allen, president of the International Foodservice Distributors Association.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see rising transportation costs as a near- or long-term challenge for the retail industry? Do you see fleet ownership, more predictable delivery schedules or any other ways retailers can offset rising costs?