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'Consumer LTL' may be legacy of Covid crises as online booms

GROWTH in what is called 'consumer LTL' reflects not only the increase in online shopping but also a saturation of capacity used to ship goods to the homes of consumers, reports IHS Media

17 November 2020 - 19:00

GROWTH in what is called 'consumer LTL' reflects not only the increase in online shopping but also a saturation of capacity used to ship goods to the homes of consumers, reports IHS Media.

As parcel carriers place prohibitive surcharges on large items too costly to handle in their networks, more of that freight is being bumped to multi-stop truckload and LTL channels, say carrier executives.



Those truckload and LTL networks, like parcel networks, are already filling up with more traditional freight.



'The LTL business is absolutely booming,' said South Carolina's Southeastern Freight Lines vice president Rob Smith.



'We're at the highest point we've ever been with daily shipment handling. There are several carriers today that have backlogs and are holding customers freight,' partly owing to labour shortages.



In June, Southeastern's final-mile deliveries were up 70 percent year on year. That is big growth off a small base, but it exploded alongside online shopping in the Covid crisis.



'There has been a huge increase going back into late May and June,' he said. In response, the carrier in September expanded its final-mile offering to all of its 89 terminals in the southern US.



The company now has 366 eighteen-foot and 20-foot final-mile box trucks, for deliveries both at homes and locations such as strip malls that do not have loading docks.



That's about 10 per cent of Southeastern's fleet of approximately 3,140 trucks. The final-mile business is a small portion of the carrier's business, but 'it has really opened up a new area for us.



'These smaller trucks allow us to back into a driveway and get that product to a garage or a front door,' he said. 'You can't do that with a 53-foot tractor-trailer.'



They also do not require drivers with a commercial driver??s licence (CDL), which allows Southeastern to tap a new pool of potential short-haul truck drivers at a time when CDL drivers are in demand, and hard to find.


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