According to recent research, large carriers saw the highest growth in volume between January and April of this year. - Source: FourKites

According to recent research, large carriers saw the highest growth in volume between January and April of this year.

Source: FourKites

While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected fleets both big and small, larger carriers seem to be seeing their volumes increase slightly higher, according to research from FourKites.

By aggregating millions of loads across more than 2,000 carriers in the FourKites’ network tracked between January and April 2020, data shows that 67% of large carriers have seen increased volumes since January, while only 48% of small carriers have experienced a similar increase. The volume increase has seen the biggest growth for fleets carrying goods that have been deemed essential.

“That is part of it, but it’s also about scale,” said Kevin Taylor, vice president of carrier operations at FourKites, in a recent post. “What we found was a clear distinction in carrier load volume growth based on the size of the carrier. In short, we’re already starting to see indications of a market shift in which larger carriers are getting even bigger at the expense of the smaller carriers.”

According to FourKites, larger carriers have been making strides because of two reasons: they have made greater investments in technology and have better crisis response procedures in place. Also, since the larger carriers usually to have lower rates and shippers look for the best prices, the big fleets are getting the most business.

A diversified customer base is also helping big commercial fleets, since smaller carriers are usually dependent on specific routes and individual customers – when these customers aren’t shipping as many goods, small fleets and owner-operators see less and less business. 

“As economic activity continues to contract, escalating competition for loads, those carriers with economies of scale and greater technological sophistication will likely continue to earn greater proportions of the nation’s freight shipments,” concluded Taylor.

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