The summer freight market doldrums are in full swing.
So, how do you find the freight while you’re waiting for a peak season that may or may not come?
Data, analytics, and context.
The SONAR chart above is showing truckload volumes in blue and rejections in green. Neither seem to be doing anything exciting; just slowly moving downward.
The indication is that for the near term there is no momentum to reverse the trend.
If you have been following my articles you know that the upstream data all the way to the consumer is not favoring a quick or drastic turn-around.
If we switch gears and look at the weekly changes in dry van rejections and volumes on the SONAR chart below, we see that the traditional wells of freight like Ontario, Atlanta, Chicago, and Elizabeth are not moving up or down in volume in any fashion and are down in rejections – meaning there is a greater acceptance of the loads offered.
There is no pressure for upward rate movement for the overall national market.
Breaking down the resulting pressures on rates, we see in this next SONAR chart that both contract and spot rates continue to be depressed. Contract rates have been on a steady decline since their highs at the beginning of June.
The only saving grace, as seen on the right side of the SONAR chart above, is that retail diesel fuel has been on a downward trend.
The spread between retail and wholesale has been favorable as well. In fact, this spread was very helpful for a couple of enterprise fleets in their quarterly financial reports.
So, where is the freight and how do you find it?
The SONAR chart above shows the Most Volatile Markets Table on the left. This only displays markets where the movement in key data points is outside the normal fluctuations for that market.
This is a great chart to determine if there is movement that will impact capacity or rates.
Rockford, Illinois and Austin, Texas are both showing signs of significant volatility.
In spite of the slight downtick in rejections, Austin is the better market because there has been a strong move upward in tender lead times. This means that shippers are beginning to see an impact on capacity availability.
This is an important data point as higher lead times indicate urgency to get loads covered. Think of a holiday week as an example.
The chart on the right side shows the lead times for the nation. Notice the spike around each holiday. This is a result of shippers needing to book loads further into the future to ensure they are covered.
These types of movements are expected just before a holiday. However, they are an indicator of tightening capacity outside of those times.
Also, notice that overall, this data point has been trending downward for the national market.
Austin is a good market to keep your eye on and negotiate a higher rate.
This last chart is the most tactical, providing information on a market’s daily fluctuations.
The market table on the left is filtered by the HAUL index. It shows the largest head haul markets at the top. No, Toledo is not the largest market. I scrolled down to find markets that fit a pattern of color.
HAUL = Green – growing outbound vs. inbound volumes
ITRI = Green – increasing rejection of inbound loads
ITVI = Red – decreasing inbound volumes
OTLT = Green – shippers booking loads further in the future
OTMS = Green – increasing market share relative to the country
OTRI = Green – increasing rejection of outbound loads
OTVI = Green – increasing outbound load volumes
These all add up to a market with strong and lasting upward pressure on rates. These markets are not easy to come by these days, but…
Toledo, San Francisco, Quincy, and to an extent Chattanooga are all decent markets with the right pressures for a carrier.
Peace and love