The economic downturn is curbing the freight traffic volume. However, experts expect no decrease in freight volumes but a rather stable demand on most transport markets within the next six months. Expectations concerning the price development vary due to opposing trends induced by demand effects, cost developments, and the respective competitive situations, and are thus quite heterogeneous. Price pressure is coming from the current rise in fuel prices, especially concerning road and air traffic as well as the maritime freight sector. Altogether, a further, yet in most market segments only limited price increase is expected. These are the findings of the ProgTrans/ZEW Transport Market Barometer (TransportmarktBarometer) of the first quarter of 2012. ProgTrans AG, Basel, and the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim quarterly survey about 250 experts from the transport and loading industry on the developments of the transport markets and prices in the next six months.
According to the experts, the development of freight volumes will decrease significantly within the next six months. Whereas the "Sentiment Index" (details at the bottom of the press release) of the TransportmarktBarometer does currently still reflect weak growth expectations, is has further declined in nearly all sub-markets. Expectations for individual transport sectors vary: in road freight, courier, express, and package services (CEP) as well as in combined traffic, growth rates further decrease, while expectations still reveal a slightly increasing trend. However, experts expect stable transport volumes for rail cargo, domestic shipping, and air freight. Nevertheless, downward trends are becoming more and more visible.
The experts' current assessments of the price development within the next six months are fairly diverse, but there is a tendency toward more cautious expectations than in the previous quarters. The "Sentiment Index" currently shows comparable levels for national rail cargo, combined traffic, and air freight as well as all sectors of cross-border traffic, indicating moderately increasing prices. However, for road cargo, CEP services as well as maritime freight, the assessments concerning the price development for individual relations are rather heterogeneous. The "Sentiment Index" has decreased strongly for road cargo and has declined slightly for CEP services, while it has increased significantly for maritime freight. Regarding domestic shipping, the majority of experts forecast stable prices.
Dr. Stefan Rommerskirchen (progtrans)
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