Reflecting on the past year, no industry has been left untouched by the impacts of the continuing pandemic. COVID-19 has drastically altered buying habits and consumer priorities, putting an invigorated demand on the freight industry in particular.
As an owner of a freight company, Gagandeep Baidwan has witnessed firsthand the impacts sustained in the sector. In the following article, he articulates how COVID-19’s increased demands are dictating changes in the freight industry and how those changes might impact the sector for years to come.
An Unprecedented Holiday Season
Even before the holiday season hit, freight companies were faced with unprecedented demand. In May, the sector reached all-time highs. Load volumes also rose steadily through the year’s first quarter, breaking 2019 figures by over 30%. As the sector rounded into the fourth quarter, the industry’s demand showed no signs of slowing.
The holiday season presents challenges for the freight and commerce industries even during a normal year. Over time, however, businesses in these industries have adapted their operations in order to accommodate holiday increases. Looking at this year’s holiday season, it’s clear the situation is unprecedented. In 2020, freight companies like Gagandeep Baidwan’s will face an exceptionally busy holiday season.
Online Shopping and Increased Demand
While online shopping has been consistently popular for years now, 2020 saw a skyrocket in online purchases. This increase can be attributed to two factors: firstly, during the pandemic consumers increasingly turned to online providers to ship and deliver items they would have traditionally purchased in-person through a brick-and-mortar store. Secondly, COVID-19 drastically limited the general public’s options for entertainment and leisure. With fewer people spending money in bars and restaurants, many found themselves with a surplus of savings. In turn, this enabled them to make purchases they otherwise wouldn’t have—many of those purchases, of course, were executed through online platforms and shipped through the freight industry.
For consumers, online shopping offers convenience and ease, but for companies like Gagandeep Baidwan’s that operate in the freight industry, these shifts represent a massive shift in demand. While many companies have overcome challenging logistics in order to scale their services, others are struggling beneath the weight of unprecedented volumes.
Extended Peak Season
Outside of its massive demand surges, this year’s holiday season has also placed additional stress on the freight industry by extending the traditional peak season. In an effort to encourage social distancing, many retailers moved their Black Friday offers online. Alongside these measures, the majority also chose to extend the offer period in order to relieve traffic from physical storefronts. These shifts (along with other contributing factors) lead the freight industry’s peak period to launch early this year in comparison to past years.
Additionally, it’s expected to extend further past Christmas than it ever has before. Given that online purchases are far more likely to result in a return than purchases made in brick-and-mortar stores, the industry is also expecting to see a post-Christmas return shipment rush that will continue placing demand on the freight industry long after the holiday season has passed. With this in mind, industry insiders like Gagandeep Baidwan predict that this year’s peak season could easily last past the end of December, placing continued demands on the sector well into the new year.
Supply Chain Disruption
For businesses across the board, the complications which followed the COVID-19 pandemic launched supply chain barriers that have only worsened in the last several months. Factory closures, border restrictions, shipping delays, and other challenges created gaping interruptions that have many retailers and manufacturers constantly playing catch-up in terms of stock and production.
For the freight industry and companies like Gagandeep Baidwan’s, the continued disruption of the global supply chain has a double-faceted impact. As demand rises, so does the demand for shipments to transport items from retailers to consumers. But those increased demands have also created stock shortages—and to remedy those shortages, companies must again turn to the freight industry.