The COVID-19 crisis gripping Europe could erase nearly one-fifth of the value of the region’s road freight market in 2020 in a worst-case scenario, new research from Transport Intelligence (Ti) reveals, and a contraction of 4.8% now looks like a best-case scenario.
Without the reopening of economies across Europe, the research indicates that the ‘Big 5’ European markets stand to lose the most, with a potential combined road freight market contraction of 21.3% projected.
And even if countries achieve some success in easing the lockdown measures, Ti’s research indicates that a European road freight market 4.8% smaller in 2020 “is now the best Europe’s road freight providers can hope for”.
The new research from Ti reveals the European road freight market stands at a crossroads in the crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, noting: “As much as 17% of the market’s value could disappear in 2020 should lockdown measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 continue to weigh on economic activity for the rest of the year. If plans to ease restrictions over the next few weeks and months take hold, however, a contraction of 4.8% now looks like a best-case scenario.”
Ti has provided market sizing data for the European road freight transport market since 2002. In that time, the market has benefitted from increased trade within the region, the ever-closer integration of central & eastern European states, the boom in e-commerce driven trade and weathered the storm of the 2008 Great Recession, the report noted, adding: “But at no time over the last two decades has the European road freight market faced a challenge of the scale and with the characteristics of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.”
Analysis by Ti of the COVID-19 crisis that took hold across the region in early March 2020 reveals a volatile landscape, the report noted, adding: “Amid lockdowns and economic uncertainty, certain sectors have ground to a halt while others have witnessed unprecedented levels of demand. And at significant and often personal risk, logistics providers have continued operations and kept alive a sense of normality in trying times, filling shelves and delivering vital supplies.”
Nick Bailey, Head of Research at Ti, commented: “These are extraordinary times and there’s no precedent for what’s happening across Europe’s logistics market. The industry is coping well – both with sharp downturns as manufacturers and retailers shutter their operations, as well as with spikes in demand across certain sectors from healthcare and pharma to grocery retail – but the time is coming where logistics providers must switch their attention to the recovery ahead.
“If predictions for the rest of the year play out and we see 6%-plus falls in GDP across the region, hauliers might be in an odd position of thinking themselves quite lucky to have escaped the worst of the economic impact of the crisis. Whatever happens over the remaining months of 2020 and beyond, this will be a deeply challenging time in the road freight market, and it will not emerge unscathed.”
The research from Ti goes on to reveal how the extent to which various countries are dealing with the crisis will impact on their prospects. The region’s ‘Big Five’ economies have been particularly hard hit, with as much as 21.3% of their combined road freight market value at stake in a worst-case scenario. Should a recovery unfold as expected, Ti’s analysis shows a 5.6% contraction across the markets – “a marked fall from 1.4% growth forecasts by Ti’s economists at the start of 2020”.
European Road Freight Market Sizing 2020: COVID-19 Impact Analysis, Ti’s new whitepaper providing a snapshot of market growth potential is available for download free. The paper includes European and sub-regional projections for the impact of Covid-19 on the road freight market.