The truckload average length of haul is shrinking and has been since last November.
Why is this happening and what does it mean?
The SONAR chart above shows that the length of haul was rising during the beginning of the pandemic and ‘leveled’ out for an extended period of time before beginning an increasingly rapid descent in mid to late November 2021.
During 2020 and the better part of 2021, demand for truckload moves increased. More importantly, the urgency of that demand escalated quickly and the trend had staying power as the logjams in maritime shipments grew.
The combination of severely increased demand and the urgency to fill shelves and get products to market caused cross docking and port area warehousing to be skipped.
Rail was too slow and at the time truckload was pretty darn cheap! Who remembers the call for a rate floor by the carriers?
Question: Was that rate floor lower than $1.97 per mile? Hmmm…..
This next SONAR chart shows Outbound Tender Market Share year-over-year change ( OTMSY).
Red is decreasing in truckload market share and blue is increasing. The intensity of the shade indicates more or less movement.
Notice that the ports on the East Coast are blue and ports on the West Coast are red. The colors are fairly intense as well.
Take note of the Texas, Chicago, Indiana, and North Carolina markets as well.
The distribution areas of the country within 500 to 700 miles of the majority of the population are growing.
This means that freight coming out of the warehouses is growing as less is being brought into those warehouses. The urgency to get the freight from the port has also declined.
In addition, maritime imports have continued to move to the East Coast.
If the charts above are not convincing enough, then check out these next two SONAR charts.
The first chart compares the Maritime Imports for Los Angeles, Elizabeth, and Savannah.
Savannah is at double-digit growth and pulling away from the pack.
The second chart compares the relative growth in market share for Ontario, California, Savannah, and Atlanta, Georgia.
Savannah is up 16% and the gap is widening.
To level-set this a bit, let’s look at the year-over-year change in Outbound Tender Volumes.
Looking at this map we can see that there is no region that is lighting the world on fire. It really is a question of the degree of shrinkage in volumes.
The SONAR map above shows the Haul index by region. Darker blue indicates more outbound freight than inbound. Red is the opposite.
The distribution centers of the U.S. are growing in Haul while the West Coast is stagnant and the rest of the country moves towards a backhaul market.
Don’t get crazy on me, these are movements towards head or back haul. Harrisburg is NOT a backhaul market.
In this SONAR chart, we see the conclusion that the best markets for a carrier to get a good-paying load are in the Great Lakes and Southeast regions.
What’s the outlook? This will likely continue for some time.
Here is a hint of what is down the road and the potential for yet another swing.
Mark my words…
The gap in the chart below will not last. It never does. It never will.
More on that later.
Peace and love