Coronavirus and government restrictions intended to reduce its spread have had profound effects on society. Some businesses, particularly service businesses, have shut down while others, such as grocery retailers and medical supply companies, have surged.

If your business is considered essential and you are planning truckload logistics during the height of the restrictions, you may see some changes in how truckload carriers deliver truckload freight. Here are three examples of changes you may experience:

Truckload Shipping Times

Shipping times will be affected, although it is difficult to predict whether your shipping times will go up or down. Some of the factors that will reduce shipping times for truckload freight include:

  • Reduced traffic: Coronavirus restrictions have resulted in a drop in traffic congestion as more cities are placed under stay-at-home orders.
  • Hours-of-service rules: The federal government has waived rules that limit the number of hours truck drivers can drive per day. The U.S. has nearly 6 million commercial drivers covered by these rules according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • Availability of specialty trucks: Goods that require special handling, such as transportation via reefer trucks, may ship in shorter than normal times because demand has dropped due to temporary business closures.

On the other hand, a few factors could push up the shipping times for certain types of goods. Some examples include:

  • Port delays: Furloughs and illnesses may mean that loading and unloading times may be longer than usual.
  • Driver shortage: The trucking industry has suffered a driver shortage for several years with the explosion of eCommerce deliveries. This driver shortage may be felt more acutely during with increased demand for truckload freight for essential businesses.

Truckload Shipping Rates

Again, it is difficult to predict how coronavirus will affect shipping rates. However, there are factors related to coronavirus and the government restrictions intended to limit its spread that will almost certainly affect the amount you pay for truckload freight. Some examples include:

  • Fuel costs: The price of crude oil has dropped precipitously. This has resulted in a drop in the cost of fuel.
  • Re-prioritization of shipments: Demand for expedited shipping has increased in some essential industries, like medical supplies. This may push rates up for expedited shipping in non-essential industries.
  • Increased eCommerce retail: With many Americans living under stay-at-home orders and many cities adopting voluntary closures of non-essential businesses, most retail shopping is now taking place via the Internet. This places a high demand for eCommerce retailers and the shippers they use to deliver goods.

Importing and exporting

The effects of coronavirus and governmental restrictions are not limited to the U.S. With countries around the globe coping with the pandemic, international trade has dropped dramatically.

For businesses having a global supply chain, this means it may be more difficult for your international vendors to ship manufacturing inputs to you. Likewise, restrictions at ports and border crossings may make it difficult to ship your products to international markets.

Although the effects of coronavirus on shipping have been profound, essential businesses may find some opportunities. Moreover, this temporary pause in commerce will give non-essential businesses time to plan shipping logistics for after the pandemic has passed.