The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the freight transportation industry is showing signs of easing, according to research from Morgan Stanley, released Thursday.
In the eighth edition of its bi-weekly survey of roughly 400 transportation carriers, shippers, and brokers, Morgan Stanley researchers revealed improvement in the current and short-term impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic, but showed that the industry lacks confidence in the longer term outlook.
The survey showed sequential improvement in the current and three-month forward impact of the pandemic, with 81% of respondents saying they expect “medium” or “high” current impact from Covid-19—compared to about 86% in the previous study—and 63% saying they expect “medium” or “high” impact three months from now.
“Overall this update builds upon the sequential improvement in our prior survey and with even greater gains than we previously saw,” the researchers said.
Looking further out, 12-month forward expectations improved modestly. About 69% of overall respondents said the Covid-19 impact would be negative in 12-months’ time, consistent with the last survey. Shippers’ expectations improved, with 61% saying they expect a net negative impact, down from 66% previously. Carriers and brokers saw negative responses increase overall, researchers said.
The study also showed that carrier operational smoothness is “getting back toward normal.” Results showed that:
Overall, the researchers said the industry remains cautious about the “path forward.”
“Our previous update saw an increase in positive comments about demand, but it seems as we move past the initial pick-up, uncertainty about the future is coming back into focus,” they said.
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