The truckload market remains tight to start the year, both due to demand that is running ahead of year-ago levels and due to capacity that has been slow to return to the market following the holidays. In fact, our data shows that accepted tender volume is up 12% y/y. Meanwhile, the nationwide tender rejection rate of 21.16% is down only modestly from this time last year despite contract rates that have increased steadily over the past year. Record dry van spot rates highlight a freight market that has not loosened.
Domestic intermodal contract rates are poised to take another meaningful step up in 2022 on top of double-digit rate increases in 2021. Since intermodal contract rates rose steadily throughout last year, shippers whose annual contracts were last re-priced early in 2021 will see the steepest increases in contract rates. SONAR intermodal contract rate data shows rates up 19% from this time last year. In addition, domestic intermodal spot rates are showing even steeper y/y increases in most of the dense lanes.
Maritime import volume remains robust and it appears that the ports of LA and Long Beach will announce a record December when the data is released. While carriers and container terminals are still working through import backlogs, ocean bookings have surged earlier than usual for the timing of the Lunar New Year which takes place 11 days earlier (February 1) than it did last year. Accordingly, ocean rates are ~15% off their highs, but have stabilized at very elevated levels.