COVID-19 has sent freight rates for a rollercoaster ride over the past few months. New data shows just how volatile the ride has been – and gives a hint at where we’re headed in the months to come.
FTR, a transportation consulting firm, has put out a heatmap that shows what has been happening with freight spot rates, state by state, since the beginning of the year. There is a huge difference in rates depending on whether the loads were dry van, refer, flatbed, or specialized. The general trend was a dip from the end of January through all of February, then a spike in rates through late March. The dip corresponds with when China and the far East was hit by COVID-19. The spike corresponds with the sudden surge in consumers buying essential goods as COVID-19 began spreading quickly through North America.
Currently, spot rates in most states are still higher than normal. It looks as though the wave is on its way back down however. Rates are already beginning to fall even in states like New York which have been hit hardest by the Coronavirus.
According to Overdrive, OOs saw load-to-truck ratios peak the week of 3/22, and they are now falling even faster than they rose.
FreightWaves reports that on a conference call with clients on Wednesday, UBS freight transportation analysts predicted a “falloff” in freight volume both for trucks and rail in April and May. Many smaller carriers are expected to close down in response to a tightening of the freight market, leaving larger players like the megacarriers who can operate on thinner margins to pick up the pieces.
You can see the data on past freight rates state-by-state, broken down by load type on the FTR heatmap here.