It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year that wreaked havoc on the status quo in virtually every area of life—from personal relationships to business operations. That is certainly true from the semi trailer rental industry.
Early in the year when the U.S. began taking action on COVID-19 that included lockdowns and other measures to try and control the spread of the virus, the economy took a nosedive, as did so many industries. We blogged previously about the convention industry being one that has suffered (and continues to suffer) serious damage, but it’s certainly not alone.
The semi trailer rental industry took a hit early on as well, in part because the businesses it supports were halting or greatly reducing their operations. Consequently, there were countless semi trailers sitting idle across the country.
The Semi Trailer Rental Industry Rebound
Fortunately for the country as a whole, the virus didn’t keep the economy down for long. Soon it was showing signs of life, and many (though not all) industries were rebounding. That includes the semi trailer rental business. In fact, a number of factors came together to give the transportation industry in general a strong shot in the arm.
For one thing, assets from raw materials to finished products that had been piling up in warehouses as companies waited to see what would happen next with the virus had to be moved to where they were needed. There was also a significant mobilization effort involved in getting PPE (personal protective equipment) into the hands of healthcare workers and other people on the front lines. The same was true of testing kits and other related supplies.
Then, of course, as people began to learn that even after formal lockdowns were lifted, it was going to be best to stay at home as much as possible, the demand for rented semi trailers increased rapidly as companies scrambled to modify their supply chains to get products to homebound consumers faster.
Using Amazon.com as just one example, the company’s Q3 2020 net sales increased 37.4% over the same quarter in 2019. And while Amazon has its own fleet of semis and other vehicles, the ripple effect of its skyrocketing sales growth was felt throughout the economy.
Trailer Leasing and Rentals in Q4 2020 and Beyond
What’s ahead for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021? From our perspective, the need for leased and rented trailers will only increase. Q4 is the busiest time for our business under any circumstances as a result of the highest ecommerce volumes of the year. When you factor in the “COVID-19 effect,” we expect to see the opposite of what we experienced in the early months. Instead of trailers sitting idle, many trailer lots will be emptying out regularly.
The good news for our customers is that as a company with decades of cumulative experience in our leadership, and the connections that come from being in the business for many years, we’ll be able to locate and secure the trailers they need despite what industry observers expect to be record high demand and record low inventory.
Tips for Companies Looking to Rent Semi Trailers
What can you do if your business has (or expects to have) a need for rented semi trailers? We recommend taking these steps:
- Take time now to look at your business forecasts and the resulting need for trailers. In past years, when rental semi trailer inventories were high, you could essentially get the equipment you needed at a moment’s notice. That still may be true in some instances today, but we would advise you not to count on that. The further out you can gauge your needs, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to obtain the necessary trailers.
- Evaluate your existing trailers. Nothing is worse than thinking your existing fleet of trailers can support your operations only to discover that some (or many) of them have to be taken off the road for an extended period for maintenance and servicing. And if that’s the case, you may want to look into the maintenance benefits of renting or leasing semi trailers as compared to owning them. This includes insights from a skilled team, expert maintenance recordkeeping, emergency roadside assistance and minimized downtime.
- Talk with us at Boxwheel about your needs. The more you know about us and we know about you, the easier it will be to get you the right trailers when you’re ready to sign a contract. If the available trailer inventory continues to decline, you want to be ready to take action quickly.
- Remember to assess your storage requirements. The use of semi trailers as affordable temporary storage continues to grow. As you consider how many trailers you need to transport your goods, be sure to also consider the benefits that you might get from having trailers to store material or products—both inbound and outbound. In fact, many companies today find that rental semi trailers are essential to their reverse logistics needs. That applies year ‘round, but it’s especially true in the period following the winter holidays.
Still Uncertain Times Ahead
It would be great if the vaccines that are now being administered would bring a swift end to the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case. It will take many months for enough people to be vaccinated that it makes a difference in the transmission of the disease. And between now and then, the experts are saying things will get worse before they get better.
Consequently, it’s critical to be proactive about your semi trailer requirements. If you need (or will be needing in the months ahead) dry van, liftgate, refrigerated or flatbed semi trailers for rent, lease or purchase, please contact us. Our teams in the Denver and Phoenix areas are happy to answer your questions about our inventory and the Boxwheel hassle-free, three-step semi trailer rental or leasing process.