The supply and demand (market conditions) are two essential factors that affect the transportation industry. They determine the rates and the capacity, and every year, we see typical seasonal shifts in market conditions. If this is your first year in the transportation industry, you need to understand and acknowledge this as soon as possible. Knowing the seasonality of freight will help you understand the dynamics of freight volume during the year. In the freight industry, people usually define four seasons.
- January-March / the Quiet Season
After the holidays are over, we are starting a new year. Temperatures are low, and many highways are covered in snow, so the weather is not suitable for shipping. There’s been much shipping work during the holidays, so the transportation industry is recovering during these first few months. As time passes, the freight volume is slowly increasing, showing a spike in March as the spring approaches.
- April-July / the Produce Season
After a few dormant months, the freight volume starts picking up as the spring comes. The produce season begins, so carriers have more freight to choose from. The market tightens up, the rates are going up, and carriers can allow themselves to be pickier, while the prices are rising. It also makes finding a truck a more challenging task. The rates and capacity for non-produce shippers may change considerably because carriers are switching to produce loads because they pay off more. In these situations, many shippers that didn’t research their regions (to understand how the produce season will affect them) become desperate to move their goods.
- August-October / the Peak Season
After the produce season, comes another busy period for everyone in the transportation business. In August, people are preparing for their holidays and for the back-to-school time of the year. Companies are shipping their products in and out of their warehouses because the sales are typically up, so they need to make sure they’re all set for the holiday season. As for the freight volume and rates, they are at their peak.
- November-December / the Holiday Season
It’s the holiday season! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are around the corner, and everyone’s buying presents for their loved ones. Shippers are also rushing to get everything done and complete their last orders before Holiday closures. Nobody wants to drag undelivered freight into the new year. The last few days before everyone leaves are typically the busiest because shippers are trying their best to ship everything that was overlooked, got delayed, or popped up the last minute.
There you go – a typical year in the transportation industry that you should be aware off whether you’re starting a career as a carrier or are a shipper that needs to make regular deliveries. It will help you stay on top of all the market changes that happen over the year. During peak season, the logistics of transportation become as complicated as they can get.
First Call Logistics offers a range of transportation services – from full truckloads to LTL to warehousing. We have specialized in shipping produce since our conception, and we can help you ship your produce goods across the continental United States within our partner carrier network.