The increase in road freight transport prices in Europe showed signs of slowing down in the 4th quarter of 2022. However, a sharp drop is not envisaged for 2023.
The Ti/Upply/IRU European road transport price index for the 4th quarter of 2022 shows that the market is beginning to feel the impact of the decline in freight demand.
- The contractual rates remain on an upward trend, but this is limited to 0.4 points compared to the previous quarter.
- Spot rates, which are quicker to reflect the state of demand, declined by 2.4 points quarter-on-quarter. This is the first decline since the first quarter of 2020.
Data source : Upply - NB : Our price estimates are based on actual transactions. The index may therefore be subject to revisions as new data are incorporated into the Upply database.
Prices still well above pre-pandemic levels
Generally speaking, spot prices will increase between the 3rd and 4th quarters, due to the growth in demand that precedes the end-of-year holidays. However, in 2022 this high season was barely perceptible. In the euro zone, inflation peaked at 10.6% in October. This has had a negative impact on consumer and business demand and, consequently, on transport needs, especially since stock levels were very high.
With a lag of a few months, the same causes have therefore brought about the same effects seen in containerised maritime transport and air freight: reduced demand followed by lower prices. However, road freight rates remain well above pre-crisis levels. The contractual rate index for Q4 2022 is 22.7 points higher than Q4 2019 and the variation even reached 30.7 points for the spot rate index.
A moderate decrease expected in early 2023
According to the Ti/Upply/IRU report on road transport prices in Q4 2022, contract prices are expected to follow the same trend as spot rates and start to fall in early 2023.
However, the downturn is expected to remain moderate as the operating costs of transport operators remain at very high levels. The surge in fuel prices eased a little in the 4th quarter, and this trend is continuing in early 2023, but prices remain higher than a year ago. Transport operators are also affected by inflationary trends that increase vehicle and maintenance costs.
Finally, they are facing a severe shortage of drivers that has now become structural and is having consequences on labour costs.
Therefore, despite a sluggish economic outlook that will push demand down, road transport prices in Europe are not expected to collapse.
WHERE TO LEARN MORE
> See the webinar
> Download the Ti/ Upply/IRU report on European road freight rates in Q4 2022