The impact of the novel coronavirus on the freight transportation industry appears to be growing, according to a recent Morgan Stanley survey, which found that approximately 80% of stakeholders’ businesses were impacted by COVID-19, compared to around 60% just two weeks ago.
Results from the survey of more than 350 shippers, brokers and carriers overwhelmingly point to industry members’ expectation that the coronavirus impact will expand in the coming months.
Although some shippers and carriers said they believe this reaction is overblown, they expressed concerns about West Coast and export-related business.
While only 50% of respondents said they believe the current impact is still “low,” when asked about the impact in three months’ time, the number of respondents expecting “no impact” dropped to less than 15%. Additionally, the total share of stakeholders who believe the current level of impact is “medium” or “high” has doubled in the last two weeks, jumping to around 30%.
The survey also found that half of those surveyed believe the level of impact will be “medium” or “high” in the next three months, up from 30% who believed this two weeks ago. However, commentary remains mixed as to what exactly what would constitute “medium” to “high” levels of impact.
Brokers, more so than shippers and carriers, expressed the most negative outlook on the effects of COVID-19 on business, with one respondent saying it was not only a disaster in the short term but might precipitate a global economic downturn.
Positive commentary, coming mainly from shippers, highlighted the spikes in demand from grocers and other retail partners, as consumers respond to the outbreak by hoarding products like canned food.