Weekly Freight Market Update: 3 Local Surprises

When we look at the freight market as a whole, it’s been quiet this President’s Day week.

The National Volume Index has continued to be mostly flat, with tender rejection finally breaking 8%. While this is still a low rejection rate, it’s worth calling out as the highest rejection rate so far this month.

FreighWaves SONAR data shows tender rejections moving higher this week.

But it’s not all quiet out there. When we zoom in to regional and local markets, there were a few surprises. Here are three we found this week:

  1. Little Rock, Arkansas became a headhaul market last week, meaning there were more outbound shipments than inbound. That continues into this week. The area doesn’t have high market share, but there is enough volume available to strain the local capacity. Tender rejection rates are over 30%. If we look into reefer specifically, there is a real shortage with rejection rates nearing 70%. Because Little Rock is home to industrial and food manufacturers, it’s likely the market flipped due to fewer raw materials coming in. Raw goods come largely from China, where shippers were ramping up imports ahead of tariffs and Lunar New Year. Little Rock was likely the end destination for those raw goods.
  2. Houston and Dallas-Fort-Worth become markets to watch. Both cities have declining rejection rates this week at around 4%. These low rates would not be surprising, except for the fact that volume in Houston has spiked over the last few weeks to levels not seen since August of 2018. For now, capacity has been able to keep up, but this is a market to watch.  
  3. Quincy, Illinois is the tightest market in the country, but it won’t last long. The top Midwest markets — Joliet, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; and Chicago — all saw reductions in both volume and tender rejections in recent days. However, Quincy, Illinois is a different story with the highest rejection rates in the country, reaching nearly 40%. This is likely weather related, but with warmer weather predicted over the weekend, that rate will likely fall because trucks will move into the area quickly and restore balance by early next week.

Don’t let the market surprise you

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Damien Hutchins
Damien Hutchins is Senior Manager of Convoy's brokerage team, when he's not writing on the state of the freight market. He has held previous roles at tech startups in various industries over the past 15 years and focuses now on logistics and trucking from his hometown of Seattle. In his free time Damien can be found exploring in the Cascade Mountains, or taking long weekend road trips on his adventure motorcycle.