The second quarter may prove the toughest in recent history. GDP estimates vary greatly, but all point to a very weak economic environment as long as we do not have COVID-19 contained. We are likely months away from consumers regaining confidence and returning to pre-crisis spending levels. Until then, we will see OTVI well below where we would expect at this time of the year without an international crisis. With volumes underperforming, there is simply not enough freight to keep all of America’s trucks moving. Capacity will be extremely loose as long as freight volumes are contracted.
With that being said, we do believe the retail economy will quickly bounce back when the economy reopens. The problem is that may not be until June or July. We expect carrier closures and bankruptcies will reaccelerate through the second quarter before the economy reopens. The recovery story is likely to be sharp and steep in retail. The rebounding demand for durable goods will be more gradual. The ferocity of labor market change will weigh on consumer’s psyche for several quarters, leading to lower demand for bigger ticket items.
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Andrew is research analyst on the Freight Intel Group and a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he graduated magna cum laude. Andrew started as an intern with FreightWaves in October 2018 and joined full-time upon graduation. He co-hosts the freight finance podcast "Great Quarter, Guys" on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. EST.