We challenge you to name the price of something that isn’t inflating. While we follow freight rates most closely, it is clear to us that inflation in freight rates is part of broader inflationary trends that include key material inputs, agriculture commodities, packaging and labor, among other items. For most shippers, surging freight rates are just one of many cost issues they are having. What’s different about freight costs, from a shipper’s perspective, is that freight costs are not easily hedged.
From the perspective of the asset-based carriers, which is the perspective taken in this report, we could choose from hundreds of SONAR charts that highlight that it’s a carriers’ market, and we will show some of those.
But as tempting as it is to just say to asset-based carriers, “Let the good times roll,” it should be noted that the carriers are dealing with their own issues as a result of a strong economy, such as difficulty securing equipment, lane balance issues, congestion and labor availability. Plus, the tight freight market is not going to last forever.
Those issues are mostly preventing carriers from handling as much freight as they would like in the tight freight market. And while those are real struggles, like being too busy at work, it’s better than the alternative.
And the alternative might take longer to develop than we previously thought. The thought that people are going to stop buying physical goods as they return to spending money on services is starting to feel outdated. What’s more timely is that many people are leaving jobs for higher-paying ones and building or buying homes (which then need to be filled with furniture and other goods) amid low interest rates and more flexible work schedules.
In this report, we provide: 1) a snapshot of where things stand today, 2) thoughts on the demand outlook and 3) issues impacting the supply outlook. We touch on a number of issues impacting asset-based carriers, including the unusual seasonality this spring, elevated import demand and differences in relative capacity tightness by market, among others.
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