We’re beginning to see volumes soften and capacity loosen post the holiday, but we think we’re weeks away from overall clarity on trucking markets for the rest of the year.
Note that both the magnitude and duration of this June’s spot market rally diverged meaningfully from the last two years. In 2018 and 2019, spot rates peaked in early-mid June and declined into the holiday; this year they climbed all month. As of June 26, the DAT national average of dry van spot rates was 10.2% higher than last year’s peak.
Freight brokers we spoke to expect more opportunities in spot markets going forward as contract freight that was aggressively quoted in 2019 becomes less attractive to asset-based carriers and freight brokers, who may face losses. For 3PLs who have the buying power to move large amounts of spot freight, the volumes should pad margins and offset the pain they feel on the contracted side.
While secondary waves of COVID-19 infections do represent a downside risk to freight volumes going forward, recent statements by Sen. McConnell regarding another round of fiscal stimulus are encouraging. In general, we maintain the view that freight volumes grow from here out, and that those sectors that will be most challenged going forward are not particularly freight-intensive.
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John Paul conducts research on multimodal freight markets and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. Prior to building a research team at FreightWaves, JP spent two years on the editorial side covering trucking markets, freight brokerage, and M&A.