Last week we reported on several reliable and unbiased industry volume indices (ATA Truckload Tonnage, Cass Freight Index and MSU Surface Transportation Index), which all indicated overall truckload freight volumes are still down year-over-year. This week we take a look at two more freight volume indices.
This week, we are taking a look at the leading freight demand indicators for the truckload sector with much the same to report as last month - freight volumes are down overall, but it is a very different story at the commodity level.
As retailers get ready for the holiday shopping season, a lot of the required inventory has already been hauled by carriers and positioned in warehouses across the country, following the peak in imports we had back in August. But obviously, retailers are approaching the holiday season differently this year.
Historically, increased spot market activity signaled higher overall truckload demand and tighter capacity. This year we’re seeing something of a paradox, with total freight volumes very uneven at the market, commodity and lane levels.
Late last week the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking to invalidate proposed HoS rule changes
As we reach the five-month mark of the pandemic, the freight market has yet to reach any semblance of equilibrium – capacity is tightening, spot market rates and volume are still climbing, and carrier networks are still out of balance.
With freight markets already upended by COVID-19, supply chains are in a precarious position heading into hurricane season. Further complicating matters: This season is expected to be an especially active one.
While there’s evidence emerging that truckload volumes may be stabilizing, the direction of spot rates remains uncertain, with upward pressure on prices as carriers continue to reject surge volume from shippers on their contracted lanes.