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Short vs. Long Haul—the Effect of Online Shopping on the Trucking Industry

Effect of Online Shopping on the Trucking Industry puts pressure on truckers for shorter delivery times and the need for last-mile trips.
Effect of Online Shopping

Let’s face it—e-commerce is big business. According to Forbes, 20.8% of retail purchases are expected to take place online in 2023, and the U.S. e-commerce market will reach over $1.1 trillion in sales in 2023. Apparently, there’s no end in sight as that number will soar to over $8.1 trillion by 2026. What effect of online shopping, if any, has ecommerce had on the trucking industry? 

Today, consumers want their deliveries faster with little to no cost. That creates an effect of online shopping by putting pressure on truckers for shorter delivery times and the need for intra-regional and last-mile truck trips. The result? There’s a reduction in the average trucking haul across the industry. Add the fact that an estimated 15-30% of all online orders are returned, placing further demands on delivery services and warehouses.

Bob Costello, the chief economist at the American Trucking Associations states that the average drive for long haulers crisscrossing several states to deliver goods has dwindled from 800 to 500 miles over the last two decades. Trucks that were being driven 130,000 miles a year are now doing closer to 100,000 miles as the industry has evolved over the past two decades. This, as well as a large number of drivers retiring due to retirement, has significantly caused a shortage in drivers.

A recent supply chain assessment report by the Transportation Department also attests to a shortage in drivers. It found that “as e-commerce creates additional demand for warehousing jobs and short-haul freight, long-haul trucking positions may become harder to fill.” It also said that long hours away from home and high turnover rates may also lead truckers to seek employment elsewhere.

The US Department of Transportation projects that by 2040, U.S. annual freight volume will increase by 45% to 29 billion tons, most of that volume being hauled by trucks. Over 51,000 drivers will be needed to meet that kind of demand. In December 2022, in response to persistent supply chains disruptions and rising inflation, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the Biden-Harris Trucking Action Plan, which includes a federally funded apprenticeship program for truckers. What are the requirements for trucking? In the US, drivers must be 21 or older to complete cross-state trips. Short haul drives open new opportunities to attract younger drivers and lower driver turnover rates as drivers want a more stable work schedule. Learn more about driving opportunities, truck driving life and training at