European road freight market to shrink by 6.8% in 2020, with the international market hardest hit

European Driver Shortages

12th November, 2020, Bath, UK – Ti’s latest market projections for 2020 show that the European road freight market is expected to contract by 6.8% year-on-year. Overall, 2020 has been a challenging year for the European road freight market, as the Coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill. As a result, both the domestic and international markets shrank in real terms, by 6.2% and 8.0% respectively.

  • European road freight market projected to shrink by 6.8% in 2020
  • The European road freight market shrank by 9.9% in H1 2020
  • The International road freight market is forecast to be the most severely hit, shrinking by 8.0% in 2020 and by 12.4% in H1
  • The domestic market will hold up better in 2020, but the slump in demand is still set to force the market into a 6.2% contraction in 2020

The European road freight market was disrupted early in the year as a result of the effects of lockdown. Sixfold data showed truck traffic fell by more than 50% in Spain, 46% in France and 37% in Italy during a single week in mid-April, compared to pre-crisis times, as lockdowns took effect across Europe. Disruption caused by border closures and crossing times continued for several months but was most noticeable early on. The subsequent shutdown of manufacturing sites and non-essential retail outlets led to freight volumes falling, damaging the market further despite spikes in certain sectors, including grocery retail.

The international road freight market was significantly harder hit than domestic road freight. In 2020, the international European road freight market is forecast to be worth €96,421m after suffering an 8.0% in real terms (nominal terms -8.1%) on 2019. A year-on-year fall in exports of 12.4% between January and August 2020 was recorded by Eurostat and shows the negative impact of the lockdowns. Germany, for example, is forecast to see its international market contract as a result of its automotive industry being hard hit by plant closures, loss of sales and reduced supply. The French market’s growth is also set to suffer, falling as exports in the first half of 2020 dropped by 21.5% y-o-y. With the UK’s market set to contract as a result of the double-blows of Covid-19 and Brexit, all of Europe’s Big 5 economies are expected to see negative growth in 2020, with the many seeing growth fall into minus double-digits.

The varied lockdown measures across Europe resulted in significant variation in the growth rates of domestic markets across Europe. Unsurprisingly the countries least affected by the pandemic tended to perform better, with Norway and Denmark expected to fare best with small 2020 contractions of 0.8% and 1.1% respectively. Contrastingly, Italy’s domestic market is set to shrink by 9.4% and Spain’s to fall even further, by 9.4% y-o-y.

Michael Clover, Ti’s Head of Commercial Development, said: “With new lockdowns in place across Europe and expected to last until Christmas, the road freight market’s anticipated reprieve for peak season has been dampened somewhat. Fortunately, emerging plans for effective vaccination programmes through Q1 and Q2 2021 are providing hope of recovery for many road freight operators.”

Ti’s new market projections break down growth in the European road freight market by international/domestic and by country with growth rates provided for H1 and the full year 2020. You can review Ti’s analysis of overall European road freight growth in the whitepaper here:

If you would like to access Ti’s full dataset on the European road freight market then you can take a look at Ti’s Global Supply Chain intelligence (GSCi):

About Transport Intelligence (Ti): Ti is the world’s leading source of market intelligence for the logistics and European road freight market, providing data and analysis through its European Road Freight Transport report series, Global Supply Chain intelligence (GSCi) database and expert consultancy services.


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