[WHITE PAPER] SONAR highlight reel: Still waiting on 4Q truckload demand surge

Tony MulveyWhite Papers

This “SONAR highlight reel,” which we publish every other week, is intended to concisely hit data highlights and trends in truckload, intermodal and maritime. 

 See description of the just-released FreightWaves Trusted Rate Assessment Consortium (TRAC) spot rate data on pages 5-6. 

Truckload demand has yet to intensify in the final quarter of the year.  Our data suggest that freight volume in the 4Q is likely to outperform 2020; accepted tender volume is up 7.8% year-over-year (y/y). Tender rejection rates continue to decline but the OTRI above 19% highlights a still-tight capacity environment for shippers. Plus, spot rates remain at or near their recent highs in many major lanes.  

Domestic intermodal volume continues to show signs of improvement, likely related to improvements in railway fluidity following the many actions the railroads have taken to address congestion. Specifically, domestic intermodal volume in the past week is up 10% from average volume levels in August and September and is now down only 1% y/y, a big improvement from double digit declines this summer.         

Eastbound trans-Pacific ocean rates continued to slide for the seventh consecutive week, falling in unison with new bookings volumes destined for the US. As congestion persists, port commissioners voted in favor of new fees for lingering containers within the San Pedro Bay port complex. The new fees, while directed at mitigating congestion, could potentially exacerbate chassis shortages and shipper transportation costs.