In the freight shipping and logistics industry, there are different seasons, so to speak. Fluctuations in the truckload market happen throughout the year based on seasonal demand, capacity etc., and in turn, impacts rates and the different options available to truckload shippers. Understanding truckload shipping seasons can help you optimize your supply chain and plan ahead for busier months when capacity is tighter. We cover the what and when of truckload shipping seasons below.
Slower Season – January to March
The holiday shipping rush is over. The transportation and logistics industry is much quieter and slower during the beginning of the new year. However, this slower shipping season doesn’t mean things have come to halt. With the need for essential items, such as medications, food, face masks and hand sanitizer still a high priority, the 2021 slower shipping season could be busier than others in the past. Additionally, more refrigerated trucks will be needed to ship COVID-19 vaccines across the nation. Also, in mid to late January, holiday weary consumers are likely returning items they received over the holidays and shipping them back to wherever they were purchased.
However, generally speaking, truckload rates tend to favor shippers over carriers during this season because the volume of shipping is lower compared to peak shipping season, which has a tighter capacity. Often, truckload carriers are looking for work during the slower season, making truckload rates more favorable for shippers. By March, volumes begin to increase as the spring and summer months approach.
Increased Volume Season – April to July
Once spring arrives, shipping volumes begin to increase. More businesses are shipping their products which means drivers are finding work easier than during the slower months. This is the truckload shipping season where shippers will start to see the truck markets tighten up as carrier availability decreases.
This is also the produce harvest season which increases shipment volume as well. For any truckload shipper moving food products or produce, you know how hard it can be to find the right truck to handle your shipment. For example, your produce shipment may require temperature-controlled equipment, to reduce spoilage or damage especially during the hot summer months. This is the time where it becomes harder to source capacity.
Peak Shipping Season – August to October
Produce season extends into peak shipping season, but it slows down and eventually ends mid to late August. However, peak season is just what it sounds like, the really busy shipping season. With consumers purchasing more items online, retailers and eCommerce stores are shipping more than ever before. During the peak shipping season as consumers look ahead to the holidays, retail and online sales will explode. And that means as orders increase so will shipping volumes, further tightening capacity. Typically, shipping volumes are so high that shippers need more trucks than usual to fulfill the demand.
Holiday Shipping Season – November and December
Peak shipping season and the holiday shipping season are the busiest times of year for the transportation and logistics industry. In November, consumers are shopping big sales for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. Additionally, more retailers are expanding Black Friday sales for the entire month of November, and some eCommerce retailers are offering special discounts, such as Amazon Prime Day.
By December, consumers are making their last-minute purchases before sending their gifts to friends and family. While consumers will likely use a parcel carrier to ship their items themselves, the retailers they purchase items from are likely shipping in larger or heavier quantities. As mid-December approaches, most consumers are finished shopping and the shipping industry slows down again before the start of the next new year.
Keep Shipping All Year Round
No matter what time of year it is or whether it’s slow or busy in the freight shipping industry, FreightCenter is the preferred shipping solutions partner for businesses everywhere. As a third-party logistics provider (3PL), we understand how the industry changes with each season and can help you source capacity at any time of the year. From less-than-truckload (LTL) to full truckload shipping, we’ll handle everything logistics, so you can focus running your business.
Now that you know more about the truckload shipping seasons, make sure you’re ready for each season and get a free online quote or call us at 844-212-7447 to speak with one of our truckload shipping experts today!