TIMOCOM Transport Barometer 2021: Limited capacities meet high demands

*51% more freight offers in Europe than last year – Fourth quarter 2021

During the fourth quarter of 2021, there was a continuous upward trend in the number of freight offers and an imbalance in the ratio between freight offers and vehicle space. TIMOCOM’s transport barometer continues to show an increase in freight offers in the Smart Logistics System compared to last year. Cumulative data from 46 European countries showed a marked increase of 51%. This also represents a slight increase from Q3.

Growing transport market despite an unfavorable business climate

Despite the introduction of stricter rules in view of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the transport market continued to grow in the fourth quarter. Between October and December 2021, 9% more freight offers were entered into the TIMOCOM system compared to the third quarter. November and December, in particular, were good months across Europe for forwarders and transport companies thanks to a seasonal recovery: the volumes of freight offers on the spot market increased by 88% in November compared to compared to last year’s figures. In December, cargo entries into the system increased by 52% compared to December 2020.

In October, freight fell 10% from the previous month, but the transport market recovered in November and increased again by 8%. Despite another fall of -5% in December, the end result is positive:

freight offers increased by 51% across Europe compared to the fourth quarter of 2020. The steady increase in demand is a signal that the economy is recovering, despite the fact that the ifo business climate index for Germany stood at 94.7 in December. Problems with bottlenecks in the delivery of primary products and raw materials have only increased, causing problems for industrial enterprises. Traders in Germany consider the situation to be just as bad as in the winter of 2020. And yet demand for transport was high in the fourth quarter.

Demand for transmission capacity remains high in Germany

After an exceptionally strong month of September (+60%), the German internal transport market generated 18% less freight in October than in the previous month. But freight offers then increased by 2%, contrary to the drop recorded in the third quarter (-18%). This means that the fourth quarter is up 37% compared to the same quarter last year. November in Germany was also the strongest month for freight offers in Q4, with an 87% increase over last year.

There’s simply no end to the demand for cargo space. Despite supply chain bottlenecks and delays, vehicle space is a limited and highly sought-after commodity, including for hinterland transport from ports. There is an imbalance in the ratio between the freight offers displayed and the trucks available to deliver the goods. This development affects transport prices, according to Gunnar Gburek, logistics expert and commercial affairs manager at TIMOCOM: “Delivery prices are under pressure due to rising fuel and vehicle costs. And of course, this is only exacerbated by increased personnel costs, carbon taxes and additional service charges, for example for loading and waiting times,” explains the spokesperson. of the company. “We all have to be careful not to permanently block already limited capacities: reserving trucks that are not really needed reduces the amount of available loading space and will lead to an increase in market prices.”

Increased use of dumpsters, tankers and mega-trailers

The vehicle types most in demand in 2021 compared to last year were tippers and tank trucks. Demand for the latter increased by 236%, while demand for tippers increased by an average of 297%. But refrigerated transport is also in high demand: temperature-controlled trucks and refrigerated trailers were requested 184% more often than last year. There was also more demand for jumbo and mega trailers, which appeared in listing descriptions 159% more often than last year. Barely in demand in 2020, height-adjustable trailers were 90 times more in demand this year, one of many signs that transport customers are trying to ship as much cargo as possible in a single load. A trend that should continue in 2022.

type of vehicle requested

Country route comparison: UK post-Brexit flop during lockdown

Routes to and from the UK have seen one of the biggest reductions in European road transport offers compared to the previous year.

  • DE => UK: October -18%, November -16% and December -48%

Freight offers from France have also decreased:

  • FR => UK: October -4%, November -12% and December -33%

Freight from the UK to Germany fell 11% in October, but rose 25% in November before collapsing again by 57% in December.

  • UK => DE: October -11%, November +25% and December -57%

This sharp drop was caused by the spread of the Omicron Coronavirus variant and a new lockdown in the UK, but also of course by the effects of Brexit and changing customs rules.

More freight in France and to France

On the other hand, positive developments were observed for freight in France and to France. According to the European Commission, France’s GDP increased by 6.5%, above the European average of 5.9%. This trend has been demonstrated by the increase in transport within the country.

  • FR => FR: October +39%, November +101% and December +70%

There is also an increase in freight offers from Germany to France:

  • DE => FR: October +19%, November +99% and December +75%

Significant increase in transport from the Netherlands

The amount of freight traveling from the Netherlands to Germany has also increased. Germany declared the Netherlands a high-risk country in November, due to the spread of the Omicron variant. The country then closed down once more in December. This resulted in additional transport and an increase in the flow of goods in the fourth quarter.

The results for the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to last year are as follows:

  • NL => DE: October +61%, November +258% and December +97%

Polish transport market in decline towards the end of the year

The total number of transports in Poland decreased in the fourth quarter. The percentage of freight to vehicle space was still up 36% from Q4 2020, but freight offerings fell 12% from Q3. Apart from economic developments in Europe, this could be due to the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border. The migrant crisis led to the border being closed for days, with trucks stranded waiting on both sides of the border.

But Poland managed to recover somewhat thanks to the Christmas and New Year season. After a 4% drop in October, the transport market recorded a 21% increase in November. But this growth and the Christmas season did not ultimately reverse the transport trend in Poland. Poland saw similar developments late last year, raising hopes that things will improve in 2022.

2021 in review, predictions for 2022

Overall, the recovery of the European road transport industry, which started in the second half of 2020, continued in 2021. However, due to the pandemic, 2021 was mainly marked by bottlenecks in terms of capacity and delivery. And of course by the serious shortage of drivers in Europe. On top of all this, inflation has increased, and with it the prices of raw materials and fuel. These will continue to be issues for the logistics industry this year. But it’s important to remember that there is no risk of shortages, says Gunnar Gburek, business affairs manager at TIMOCOM. However, he admits there could be more delivery delays in Europe. “In terms of road transport, it is specialized vehicles, such as those with refrigeration, which will not always be available in the short term. For a standard transport order, companies are much more likely to be able to find what they need in the sports market,” he continued. “The capacities are limited, but available. Digital apps can help optimize the use of cargo space. »

FreightTech TIMOCOM has been using the transport barometer since 2009 to analyze the development of transport supply and demand in 46 European countries via the freight exchange integrated into the Smart Logistics System. More than 135,000 users generate up to 800,000 international freight and vehicle space offers daily. The system helps more than 50,000 TIMOCOM customers achieve their logistics goals in a smart, safe and simple way.