Each month our industry experts gather the top trends you should watch for in the shipping and logistics industry. Bookmark this page to check back each month for additional up-to-date information, monthly recaps and forecasts.
December Freight Trends
Rates: Van spot rates were up slightly in December, roughly 2.5% more than November and 22% over December 2020.
Capacity: The dry van market tightened in December, due to increased holiday shipping.
Rates: Flatbed rates were relatively flat through December compared to November rates.
Capacity: The increased demand beginning in November continued through December, causing the flatbed market to tick up slightly this month.
Rates: Reefer spot rates were up about 1% over last month, but up by 30% over December 2020.
Capacity: Demand for reefers continues to remain stable, but is the tightest mode of transportation currently for the Ryan Transportation network.
In January and beyond, here are some industry forecasts and items to watch for:
- Elevated freight levels can be expected through the first quarter of 2022.
- This quarter will be tight with capacity due to increased volumes.
- The first week of January has already seen incredible freight demand over 2020 and 2021 numbers, so more of the same should be coming this quarter.
Bookmark this page and check back in February for January’s recap, and more insight from Ryan Transportation industry experts. Contact us today to take your shipping operations to the next level.
Past Months (2021)
November Freight Trends
Rates: Freight volumes did not surge as high as many anticipated for the peak season, but were still slightly up about 2.5% from last month, and 19% from last November.
Capacity: No significant changes occurred in capacity; the market continues to remain stable leading into the end of the year.
Rates: Flatbed rates continue to rise dramatically, increasing by 20-30% nationwide over 2020 rates.
Capacity: While capacity loosened some last month, the market tightened significantly at the end of November.
Rates: In November, spot rates increased by about 5% over October rates and by 27-30% over last year during the same period.
Capacity: Demand for reefers remains stable, but temperatures are quickly dropping across the country which will lead to increased demand to protect freight that cannot be exposed to freezing temperatures.
In December and beyond, here are some industry forecasts and items to watch for:
- No significant market changes are anticipated in the near future; demand remains strong
- Port congestion is still a prevalent issue, and inventory levels are low across the country
- There have been recent surges in short mile run rates and short mile weekend runs as the holiday season continues
- Some slight relief has been seen with overall capacity so rates will likely not go much higher, despite being 20-30% higher than 2020 rates (which is 40-50% higher than the average rate from the four years prior to the pandemic)
- There could be some unusual fluctuations in the market as the industry prepares for the week of Christmas
October Freight Trends
Rates: Dry van spot rates were only up by roughly 1% over last month, but consistent with market behavior, increased by 15-20% over October 2020 rates.
Capacity: Dry van capacity continues to remain stable post-Labor Day. But with peak season already beginning, capacity is predicted to tighten nationwide through the remainder of the year.
Rates: Flatbed rates are continuing to increase over last year’s rates. This month, spot rates increased by 20-30% (varied by geographic location) over October 2020.
Capacity: While the first weeks of October showed flatbed capacity tightening, overall capacity began to relax a little bit towards the end of the month. However, with peak season approaching, capacity could tighten up again.
Rates: Similar to last month, spot rates for reefers were up by 25-30% over October 2020.
Capacity: Overall, reefer conditions have slowly tightened across the country. As temperatures drop and Thanksgiving approaches, significantly higher reefer demand is anticipated in the coming weeks.
In November and beyond, here are some industry forecasts and items to watch for:
- The $1 trillion infrastructure bill was just passed by Congress, which could start causing additional supply chain disruptions due to anticipated spending boosts.
- Continue to expect higher rates and tighter capacity across the board as the holidays approach.
- Despite recent efforts to operate ports 24/7, port congestion continues to worsen. Try to plan ahead as much as possible and account for delays.
September Freight Trends
Rates: Dry van spot rates increased by 19.2% over September 2020, while the van load-to-truck ratio increased 15.9%.
Capacity: Overall, dry van capacity has remained stable. As the holiday season and peak shipping season approaches, a tightening of capacity is anticipated. Currently there are capacity challenges due to high demand in Southern California, Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Rates: Flatbed spot rates increased by 27.9% over last year’s rates and the load-to-truck ratio increased by 19%. The flatbed market has seen more activity over the last few weeks than historical performance during this time of year.
Capacity: Flatbed capacity has tightened even more than last month, showcasing an increase in activity in the industrial economy.
Rates: In September, reefer spot rates increased by 25.9% over September 2020 rates and the load-to-truck ratio increased by 39.4%.
Capacity: Out of all load types, reefers are currently experiencing the tightest capacity nationwide. As the first snowfalls occur across the country, an increase in demand is expected to cause additional challenges.
In October and beyond, here are some industry forecasts and items to watch for:
- Holiday season is always the peak season of shipping; prepare for higher rates and possible delays
- Snow is beginning to fall across the country and could cause transit disruptions, make sure drivers are prepared for inclement weather
- Port congestion is an ongoing problem and will almost certainly get worse as product demand increases with holiday shopping
August Freight Trends
Rates: The monthly national average spot rates for dry van freight set another record in August at an increase of 23.9% over last year’s rates.
Capacity: The Northeast has continued to experience tight conditions; eastern Pennsylvania and New York have been dealing with capacity challenges. The upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest also appear to be tightening faster than typical for the usual fourth quarter market cycle. The load-to-truck ratio for dry vans increased by 21.6% from 2020.
Rates: Flatbed rates were increasing through the first half of August and then seemed to level out leading up to Labor Day weekend. Data shows that rates were relatively flat for August 2021 vs. July 2021 but increased by 33.8% over 2020 rates.
Capacity: Flatbed capacity is still tight nationwide with load-to-truck ratios still imbalanced for most of the country, with a load-to-truck ratio 40.1% higher than last year.
Rates: August proved challenging for many shippers as reefer rates increased on a national level by more than 29% over last year.
Capacity: The reefer load-to-truck ratio increased by 60% over 2020 numbers. Produce season is beginning to come to an end, but there will be heightened demand in the upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest in the coming months due to turkey season and colder temperatures approaching.
In September and beyond, here are some industry forecasts and items to watch for:
- Short mileage load tender acceptance is decreasing; day rates seem to be at all-time highs.
- Same-day loads and shorter mileage “weekend runs” continue to get increasingly expensive. Efficient load planning is becoming more important each day.
- The market is potentially facing major disruption from Hurricane Ida. FEMA freight will be hitting the market and taking capacity as needed. More will be known about the impact in the coming weeks as relief efforts have just begun.
Contact us today to take your shipping operations to the next level.