December trailer orders show market is moderating

ACT December 2023 trailer orders

With freight markets continuing their bounce along the bottom, carrier profits at a low ebb, and pent-up demand exhausted, the 2024 game plan is more about hoping and coping than full steam ahead for the trailer market, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

The company reported this week December net orders, at 24,300 units, were nearly 58% lower year over year, but 3,300 units more than were booked in November.

“With 35% of the year’s orders historically booked in Q4, the quarter’s seasonal factors run roughshod on the nominal data. Seasonally adjusted, December’s orders fall to 17,200 units, a 206,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate,” says Jennifer McNealy, director, CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. “Dry van orders contracted 87% year over year, with reefers down 56%, and flats 75% lower compared to December 2022.”

She adds, “Total cancellations increased to 1.7% of the backlog from November’s 0.9%, elevated for most segments and much higher for some. Digging down, several markets were again above 1.0%, including dry vans at 1.3%, flats at 3.5%, medium lowbeds at 1.5%, and dumps at 1.3%. Both tank categories reported a spike in cancellations, both around 7% of the backlog. Recent oil price weakness may bear some culpability.”

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