North American Freight Market Insights

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Transportation Market Overview and Freight Trends

Peak retail season is shaping up to be different from last year

The retail industry, along with housing and manufacturing, make up the three primary industries that create freight volume.

Today, the impact of inflation and higher interest rates means the housing industry is experiencing a softening of related freight volumes from new and used home sales. However, manufacturing continues to expand—however at a slowing growth rate. July's Purchasing Managers Index demonstrated expansion at 52.8. Finally, retailers are currently experiencing a particularly challenging environment.

Many impacts are coming together, materially disrupting historical retail patterns and inventory. Some of the influencers causing supply chain disruption include:

  • COVID-19 shutdowns in China
  • Consumer behavior shifts
  • Work at home trends

Retailers must rethink sourcing, lead time, and inventory strategies to address the portfolio of uncertainties.

In 2021, peak season for retail import shipping started much earlier—as early as April for some retailers. This is months earlier than in the past. Last year also saw import products coming in out of season, both early and late. This out of season importing and bottlenecks at the ports led to full warehouses of good products but at the wrong time.

Retailers must now clear some inventory through sales and use of liquidators. With progress being made on inventory through these sales, it begs the question, “How will this early buying impact holiday shopping and import volumes for the balance of the year?”

With retail being a material influencer to freight volumes and patterns, all participants in the freight market are impacted by and benefit from awareness of its current and forecasted situation.

Estimates for the second half of 2022

Import container volume to U.S. ports is trending to be about 1.5% lower than 2021
This shift follows the first half of the year averaging 5.5% over 2021 volumes. 1 Import volumes by retailer will vary due to elevated existing inventory that arrived after original intended sale dates.

Inventory forecasting for the later part of the season will likely be difficult for retailers as they balance the risk of shedding too much inventory now (much of which has been in storage since showing up too late last season) against the risk of running out during peak shopping season. Accordingly, it is possible there will be a late, late peak season this year.

Containers and space on ships should be easier for retailers to come by
Despite this, operational challenges at the ports are expected to continue. C.H. Robinson expects getting merchandise into the West Coast ports will be smoother sailing this season.

Shippers’ efforts to diversify port strategies have helped ease some of the West Coast congestion, but is also increasing congestion at other ports. Ship backups are reaching record levels, containers are stacking up, and it can take trucks eight hours to get into these alternative ports. This will likely continue for at least two to three months.

  • The operational challenges on the ground, especially on the East Coast, have already been a struggle for about six weeks and it is expected to last another two to three months—if not longer.
  • Market participants are keeping an eye on congestion returning to the West Coast this peak season.

Long-haul trucking is a bright spot
Both truck and intermodal capacity is healthy heading into peak season. To fully capitalize on this, savvy shippers are using technology to automate quoting and life of a load processes at rapidly increasing rates.

The final takeaway

The retail industry's second half of 2022 and impact on the transportation market is not fully written. It appears this year’s peak season may be a bit smoother with less of a demand bubble than 2021. If this is the case, freight market performance will offer fewer surprises than seen recently.

Contact your C.H. Robinson sales or account lead for more retail trends, peak season insights, and supply chain strategies.

1. Retail Federation and Jason Miller PhD, Michigan State Univ.

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Full Truckload Shipping

TOP STORY: Now is the time for focused strategy improvements

Truth be told, any time is a good time to reflect on your truckload strategy. However, today's market is an especially appropriate time to engage your top suppliers and plan for the next cycle shift. The next cycle will come, but the precise timing and what the experience will be is difficult to predict.

Four insights about truckload strategies

This month’s report will feature four insights about truckload strategies from the C.H. Robison portfolio of academic research. These insights are offered to help achieve better acceptance of tenders to the transportation provider ranked first in a traditional hierarchical route guide. Often, when tenders are rejected, backup providers and the spot market are used, introducing increased costs and potential service issues.

For a closer look at some of these strategies, check out our published white papers and watch for new publications featuring the latest research. Connect with your C.H. Robinson representative to discuss how these and other strategies may benefit your supply chain and transportation goals.

  1. Smooth demand patterns when possible
    Research shows lane volume and cadence of shipments is correlated to acceptance. First tender acceptance will be at its highest when the demand pattern can be predicted by your primary awarded service provider.

    Today's truckload route guides are performing very well (see the contract truckload section below), but research shows that even in markets such as today's, lanes with the highest rejection of shipment tenders have a pattern of low demand predictability.

  2. Segment your transportation portfolio
    The demand pattern attribute introduced above is one top segmentation strategy, another is the actual markets or corridors in which your freight travels. Corridors may be oversupplied, under supplied, balanced, or without a lot of trade.

    Segmenting your portfolio into the markets of contract and spot will help ensure the most predictable performance and best price in any market cycle. Talk to your C.H. Robinson representative about introducing you to Procure IQ™ and our experts can help with this process.

  3. Rationalize your supplier base
    Research shows rationalized trucking supplier base of top performing suppliers will outperform a highly fragmented pool of suppliers. Use your supplier scorecards and strategic relationships to develop a resilient and top performing route guide and spot market strategy.

  4. Maintain your route guide
    The best laid plan will be introduced to change. Supply chains evolve and with those changes so does the carrier network that planned on awarded volumes.

    As such, assets are not where they were planned to be and route guides can demonstrate some failure, even in a market like today. Research supports the effort to fix underperforming lanes by way of mini-bids or other similar approaches. This will yield a lower price paid than the results of the underperformance.

Spot market, committed market, and capacity insights

Spot market continues around five-year averages

As reported last month, the spot market volume decline coincided with the return of drivers from COVID-19 related illness in the first quarter. Like any market, there is some week over week change in spot market volumes, but the pattern of change has narrowed since about week 13.

Truck postings have varied week over week and are slightly higher today than earlier in the year. Accordingly, the spot market has corrected and continues to offer a load to truck ratio (LTR) at the 5-year average with only minimal variation week to week since week 13. This is most evident in both the dry van and refrigerated segments.

National LTR averages

Offered this month are national 2022 LTR averages by week with 5-year average comparisons. The following section displays the regional variances within a national average.

Dry van LTR

Dry van is the largest segment of the truck market. It is performing well in most markets across the country.

dryvan load:truck ratio 5 year comparrison

Refrigerated van LTR

While the 2022 fresh produce harvest season is somewhat muted in the key growing market when compared to previous produce seasons, the national average continues its pattern of the 5-year LTR.

reefer load:truck ratio 5 year comparrison

Flatbed LTR

Today's flatbed spot market offers plentiful capacity in most markets with a load to truck ratio of about 15:1, well below the historical average of 26:1.

flatbed load:truck ratio 5 year comparrison

Regional LTR averages

Regional perspectives can help you understand and plan for optimal market performance. Shown here are LTR at the point of origin for the week of August 7–13.

Note how the colors indicate different ranges of LTR by each of the three truckload services. Some lanes from an origin may perform better or worse than the LTR might indicate. Our research and experience confirms that an origin-destination pair can have more or less attractive features to the capacity market than the regional average tension might indicate.

Regional dry van LTR

Dry van is displaying a great deal of yellow (3.4 to 6.9:1 LTR) with a national average of 3.6:1. Of note, PA has been experiencing significantly greater tension for several weeks in a row.

dryvan spot market heatmap aug 2022

Regional refrigerated LTR

The national LTR at the 5-year average between 7 and 8:1 is showing some greater tension in the Midwest due to harvest season of fresh produce.

reefer spot market heat map aug 2022

Regional flatbed LTR

Today's flatbed spot market LTR of ~15:1 shows meaningful tension in the Southeast.

flatbed spot market heatmap

Labor day insights
Labor Day load:truck ratio impact graph 

C.H. Robinson has been studying the impact of disruptive events and their impact on spot and contract truckload markets. Depicted here is the DAT LTR around the Labor Day holiday.

This is an 11-year average showing the days prior to Labor Day (depicted as L.D.) and the days after Labor Day. All days shown are weekdays. In all years, regardless of market tension the pattern shown is: Increased tension prior to the holiday, a slump at the holiday, tension returning, and then settling back to pre-holiday tension levels.

It would seem for this Labor Day, the market can expect performance similar to the average. The van spot market has been performing at the five-year average for LTR since week 13.

The experience is created by shippers putting additional loads into the spot market on Tuesday and Wednesday before slowing down shipping nearing the long weekend. There of course is not additional capacity, so tension increase is the result. And then tension declines on Thursday and Friday as both load and truck postings drop.

As in any industry, there is a percent of drivers/employees that extend the holiday weekend, and active capacity is reduced between Thursday and Wednesday the next week. So as shipping volumes ramp up on Tuesday and Wednesday after the holiday, tension is high, waiting for the full active capacity back in the market on Thursday.

This spot market experience also occurs in the contract truckload market. Route guides tend to underperform around the holiday for the same reasons of driver vacation. As proven in our research with MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, lanes of higher volume and greater demand pattern predictability weather this and all holidays better than those lanes with lower volume and less demand pattern predictability.

The lower volume lanes tend to have the greatest exposure to rejection of shipment tender and end up being moved by carriers deeper in the route guide or in the spot market, both bringing price and service variance to the load/lane.

The recommendation is to be mindful of this market pattern and plan accordingly. As noted, this pattern occurs in soft and tight markets. The softer markets display less change than an average or a tight market, but still follow this pattern.


Contract truckload environment

Most (75%–85%) of the U.S. for-hire truck market is moved through commitments most often managed via hierarchical route guides and dedicated truckloads. In 2021, the percent of freight in the contract market was on the lower side of this 10% variation.

With freight volumes settling and the apparent migration of talent and assets to larger carriers in 2022, it is likely that the percent of freight in the contract market is increasing.

Route guide performance

Companies commonly use waterfall (or hierarchical) route guides to manage awarded freight on lanes with some level of demand pattern predictability. The following insights are derived from TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson, which offers a large portfolio of customers across diverse industries throughout the United States.

Two key metrics of route guide performance are first tender acceptance (FTA) and route guide depth (RGD). RGD refers to how far into a route guide a shipper must tender shipments before carriers accept loads, or the average number of tenders per load. FTA is a percentage of how often the awarded primary transportation provider accepts their shipment tenders.

These insights are from the week of August 7–13, 2022, and also reflect on RGD from the month of July.

RGD by U.S. region

The regional view continued to show the Northeast displaying the most challenging RGDs. With a national average RGD of 1.34, the Northeast pattern was above the other regions, which seems to be influenced by the states of Pennsylvania and New York. The Pennsylvania tension has been apparent in the spot market for over a month, while other regions continue to experience a pattern of stabilization.

Broadly speaking, route guides are performing well, with primary service providers accepting loads at or near pre-pandemic levels and the first backup provider accepting rejected tenders most of the time.

routing guide depth aug 2022

The chart above from TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson, reflects weekly RGD regionally across the United States through the week of August 7-13, 2022.

July FTA for North America shows continued improvement posting 87%

This is much improved from the lowest pandemic point of January 2022 at 79% and slightly better than June 2022 at 86%.

For some context on FTA and RGD, during the height of the pandemic, longer haul distances were being declined in favor of loads under 400 miles. Presumably, carriers were flooded with opportunity and were taking loads that aided in getting drivers home more frequently, which is a key influencer to driver recruitment and retention.

As freight volumes started to relax, transportation providers that were positioned as primary on a route guide started to accept loads at an increasing rate and across the distance bands and regions.

The freight market experienced lower volumes of spot market load tenders and capacity started to migrate back to route guides where freight is still plentiful.

Load tenders that are rejected in today's market tend to be those that are unattractive to carriers for one reason or another, such as:

  • Low volume or variable demand patterns that make predicting the tender difficult. In these situations, capacity is simply not available within the tender specs due the preplanning of multi-leg routes in a week that most transportation companies construct.
  • Historically excessively long dwell events at origin and/or destination.
  • Price is below market. In today's market this is typically associated with a load that has unattractive attributes and requires a price above market to offset the issues with the load.

It is helpful to watch both FTA and RGD metrics. The contract freight market as displayed in these metrics is seemingly back to pre-pandemic performance. Additionally, with the spot market LTR performing around the 5-year average since week 13, it seems today's freight market has stabilized.

July RGD across distance bands

For July, all three distance bands experienced improvement in RGD as secondary providers increasingly accepted primary provider rejections. Info from the week of August 7, and pre-pandemic comparison offers additional perspective:

  • Short haul (less than 400 miles) posted ~1.20 the week of August 7th. July improved 2% over June and 15% over July 2021. Performance has returned to pre-pandemic levels, which were in the 1.1 to 1.2 range.
  • Middle distance (400–600 miles) is about 1.25 for the week of August 7th. July improved 3% from June and 32% from July 2021. Performance is much improved but this distance band continues to post the most route guide performance issues.
  • Long distance (over 600 miles) is just under 1.25 for the week of August 7th. July improved 9% from June and 28% from July 2021. Performance is much improved, but this longer distance band continues to pattern with the middle distance levels and is apparently less attractive to carriers than the short distance band.

U.S. spot market dry van truckload rate per mile insights

Shown below is the C.H. Robinson 2022 truckload dry van spot market cost per mile index without fuel. Like others, this forecast has been and will continue to be amended as the economic forces shape freight volumes and the capacity community responds.

  • The dark blue solid line is DAT's cost per mile to carrier without fuel.
  • The blue dotted line is the C.H. Robinson forecast, bounded on the bottom by the estimated cost per mile to operate a truck.
  • The revision for August brought the bottom of the market up a bit with July historical information applied.

When looking at previous market cycles, the cost per mile to operate a truck has been the bottom of the market. Then supply tends to contract, creating tension and pricing inflection. The length of time a market is at the bottom varies by the economic conditions and the level of oversupply.

For perspective, shown here is the spot market forecast. Analysts have offered contract pricing forecasts between 8–9% year over year (Y/Y) without fuel as carriers work to recover increasing operating expenses against optimized multi-leg routes from route guide awards.

C.H. Robinson will continue to apply its broad market costs and market experience to the forecast and continue to present updates on a regular cadence.

2022 TL cost forecast

Diesel pricing outlook

As you can see in the below graph from FTR Transport Intelligence, diesel pricing plotted from the EIA forecast, will slowly decline but stay above $4/gallon through 2023. A nationwide average with the annualized 2022 cost per gallon at $4.81 is down from the nationwide average spike of roughly $5.50 with California the highest point in the nation at $6.27 in mid-June.

The national average price per gallon of diesel, for the week ending August 8, 2022, was at $4.993 according to the EIA, which follows multiple weeks of decline and revisions to the forecast. The visual below shows the expected downward trend toward the $4/gallon range in 2023.

With the forecasted decline in diesel pricing, the levels are still exceedingly high historically and will continue to be an increased cost for carrier operations where fuel surcharges don't cover repositioning miles, idle time, or out-of-route miles.

CHR fuel forecast August 2022

Voice of the carrier from C.H. Robinson

C.H. Robinson has two customer communities, shipper customers and carrier customers. What follows are insights from conversations with carriers of all sizes to offer perspective into their top concerns over the past month. Below is a summary of the reoccurring themes.

Market shifts

  • Contractual pricing is holding better than spot market, with annual renewals experiencing some adjustments to a well-supplied market.
  • High fuel pricing continues to impact smaller spot market carriers more than contract carriers with a high percentage of dedicated fleet loads.
  • Dwell time of dropped trailers is again lengthening, causing rotation issues.


  • Carrier fleets have been aging as they wait for new equipment
  • Carriers are starting to see some backlog orders of new tractors get delivered
  • Parts for maintenance continue to be a significant issue keeping trucks and trailers off the road


  • Driver applications are on the rise, an increasing amount are coming from former owner-operators
  • Home time continues to rank as high as pay in priority on driver applications/interviews.

Imports and inland transportation

Places where the global supply chain meets North American supply chains—like ports and airports—are also affected by the cyclical market and other disruptors. Here is a look at top influencers impacting imports.

Ocean dray at select ports

Savanna/Garden City, GA, has expanded operating hours
To aid in increasing truck turn times, the Georgia Port Authority has extended operating hours at the primary terminal in response to the 10.6% increase in truck moves in June year over year (Y/Y).

Dray capacity is plentiful at Charleston, SC and Jacksonville, FL
Sufficient dray capacity creates an ideal time to amend capacity strategies in these ports.

Chassis shortages create challenges for exporters
Many ports, including the following are experiencing long dwell for dray truck drivers:

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Norfolk
  • Cleveland
  • Columbus
  • Memphis
  • Chicago
  • Minneapolis
  • Kansas City
  • St Louis
  • Dallas/Fort worth

Container shortages creating challenges for exporters
While limited to a few ports, these shortages make inventory challenging:

  • New Jersey
  • Detroit

U.S airport operations

Airports less challenged by COVID-19
While recovery times at U.S. airports remain elevated relative to pre-COVID-19 conditions, there have been fewer extreme delays as demand has softened since early 2022. Even historically challenging terminals at LAX are operating smoothly.

For an entire portfolio of insights, visit our Global Freight Market Insights or contact your C.H. Robinson account manager.

Temperature controlled shipping

A balanced refrigerated spot market

The refrigerated spot market settled into healthy balance of supply and demand. This provides an opportunity for investing in a spot market strategy for those lanes in a freight portfolio that have:

  • Low volumes
  • Inconsistent demand patterns
  • Undersupplied lanes
Contract market has ample capacity

Contract lane performance for refrigerated freight has returned to pre-pandemic levels with ample capacity for lanes of predictable demand patterns and common refrigerated lanes.

There are opportunities to amend contract capacity strategies and prepare for the next market cycle. Regions of greatest opportunity to amend strategy include: Southeast, Midwest, and California.

Increased carrier cost impacts remain an ongoing concern

This continues to be a material issue for the refrigerated truckload community. Carriers’ cost of operations has continued to climb, especially for refrigerated carriers with fuel impacts for refrigeration units to consider on top of diesel, labor, and maintenance cost increases, to name a few.

Carriers seek ways to reduce fuel and occasionally choose to set their units on ‘cycle,’ lowering the fuel need, but bringing increased temperature variation to the trailer and goods. C.H. Robinson works closely with carriers on temperature expectations to help ensure quality of the goods in transit.

Produce season

The 2022 produce and grilling season was the least eventful in years due to a combination of unusual weather patterns, changing consumer buying habits, along with inflation and inventory concerns.

We continue to see consumer demand shift from fresh to frozen as consumers work to keep vegetables in their diet, but at a lower cost. In some lanes, the temperature shift is more visible than, others putting some pressure on the frozen segment of temperature control trucking.

Work with temperature controlled experts

Connect with our experts to learn more about how seasonal and supply imbalances affect your business and how our unique refrigerated transportation procurement and capacity solutions can help your shipping strategy for the next market cycle.


The flatbed spot market has been increasing capacity against a flat to declining load volume opportunity, resulting in a LTR well below the five-year average cited above.

Service and price trade off

With today's market of plentiful capacity, shippers use lead time of orders and price in a tradeoff benefit approach.

  • 5-day lead time: This can be shortened but will not capture the full market price opportunity
  • Price opportunity: Retaining the 5-day lead time can create the greatest opportunity for improved pricing in both the contract and spot markets

Today's market creates the opportunity to create new outcomes, balancing contract and spot scenarios and set a new baseline for the next market cycle

Spot market insights

Flatbed capacity seems to be growing as the van market softens. Some carriers with both van and flat trailers have been changing out and seeking flatbed loads, which tend to pay more per mile than van loads. The net result is expanded flatbed capacity.

  • Spot market load postings have been in a steady decline since about week 13 of this year
  • Load to truck ratio (LTR) nationally has declined from 101:1 in week 10 to 15:1 in week 31 against a same week five-year average of 26:1
Contract market insights
  • Shippers are strategically approaching their plannable flatbed freight
  • Route guides are being amended and new awards are garnering capacity with a rationalized supplier base
  • Pricing is being firmed up in annual awards
Key flatbed freight markets

Key flatbed industries are showing lower volumes with a few hopeful growth markets.

  • Automotive and heavy industrials continue with lower volumes. Anticipate an upturn with improvement in inbound supply chains, back orders, and pent up demand
  • Housing is being pulled down against inflation and higher interest rates
  • Energy and road infrastructure are expected to bring some volume back as the projects supported by the U.S. Infrastructure Bill come online. Pricing is being firmed up in annual awards

This market provides the chance to bring strategy to a truckload mode that is often quite reactionary. Connect with your C.H. Robinson account manager to schedule time for a flatbed planning session.

Cross-border shipping: Canada

Canada’s truckload spot market has settled to a healthy balance

July offered market balance of LTR similar to June and the preceding two months. Load link reported southbound LTR (Canada to United States) at 3:1 and Northbound at 4.5:1.

Intra-Canada LTR averages came in at 3:1. The Canadian market is offering the same opportunity as other truck markets in North America, making it a particularly good time to explore a revised capacity strategy that prepares your supply chain for the next cycle.

Intermodal also performs strong in Canada

The Canadian rail network is performing very well today—actually outperforming its U.S. and Mexico peer networks in both train speed improvement and intermodal volume growth.

Capacity is plentiful across most lanes with both Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway. Where capacity is needed, flat cars are being added to increase container flow capacity and further improve services.

Cross-border shipping: Mexico

Northbound market tension continues

Truckload tension, as expressed in the LTR for northbound loads, continues its pattern of roughly three loads northbound to one load southbound across the Mexico-U.S. border, despite the broader nationwide lessening of tension in the United States.

This region will continue to require tailored attention for transportation management. However there is some conversion from rail to truck taking on some of the unused northbound capacity from the automotive industry. Additionally, in this environment, repositioning out of balance asset costs are occasionally deferred.

Spot market insights

Continued improvement of DAT's spot market dry van LTR has reached balanced levels between 3 and 4:1 ratios. Favorable capacity strategies can be developed in this environment. With help from your C.H. Robinson account manager, you can develop a strategy that brings increased capacity and service.

CCP implementation

The Complemento Carta Porte (CCP) implementation grace period is set to expire on September 30, 2022. Starting in October, fines will be imposed for non-compliance.

The “CFDI con Complemento Carta Porte” is a document that contains details of the shipment and serves as proof of the carrier’s legal possession of the merchandise in transit. Work with your C.H. Robinson account manager for guidance and additional information.

Border crossing automation promises to speed up the customs process

The Aviso de Cruce (AVC) is the automated process from Agencia Nacional de Aduanas de Mexico (ANAM) to improve the entry process for all imported or exported goods from and to Mexico.

The new process started August 1, 2022, at a select set of border crossings that are serving as pilot locations before full roll out will occur. (Some of the current pilot locations include Tijuana, Tecate, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Columbia bridge, Miguel Aleman).

The aim of this program is to expedite the customs crossing times on north and southbound cross-border moves using passes on the tractor/truck that are scanned as the vehicle moves through the customs area. This effectively replaces the use of the SCAC and CAAT information.

The Aviso de Cruce will be the new procedure that replaces the current DODA-PITA. Once fully implemented, it will no longer be necessary to present the Drivers’ Gafete Único. Reach out to your C.H. Robinson account manager for additional details and insights.

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Intermodal Shipping

TOP STORY: Ample capacity means it’s time to plan for the next market cycle

Intermodal volumes have stabilized

Daily intermodal volumes had been pulling back as the migration of some volume to truck occurred as spot market truck pricing fell along with the general impact volumes slowing overall across modes.

Intermodal volumes the last few months have flattened out. As a result, there is available capacity. The traditional autumn spike is less certain given the current economic conditions and inventory situations across the retail sector. Mid to late September could bring some pricing pressure off the West Coast if import volumes on rail start to rise.

Hampered operational fluidity

Railroads have struggled with consistency of on-time performance since the beginning of the pandemic. The labor population for railroads is down about 40,000 people or 30.7%. This is the primary challenge to on-time performance currently.

Labor strike threat

There is a threat of a strike starting September 19, 2022. President Biden intervened and named a board to develop a compromise labor contract. September 19, 2022 is the next deadline.

The Emergency Board has 30 days to find a solution that is satisfactory to both sides. If either rejects it, another 30 day period begins, with both sides again continuing to work toward a resolution.

If no resolution comes from this process, only then could the railroad workers go on strike. Alternatively, the railroads could lock out the workers and convince Congress to get involved and impose an acceptable labor deal.

Competitive position

The railroads will continue to mirror their truckload counterparts and ensure pricing is enticing so as to maintain volumes currently on the rail and attract volume from trucking to intermodal.

Current intermodal headlines making an impact
  • Strike threat for mid-September
  • Few regions/hubs experiencing chassis shortages
  • Container availability is plentiful almost everywhere
  • All lanes are offering capacity and pricing opportunity

Contact your C.H. Robinson account manager or sales lead to discuss any of these topics or to start setting capacity strategies that capture today's opportunities and position your business for the next market cycle.

Less Than Truckload (LTL) Shipping

TOP STORY: LTL carrier door expansion

In recent years, estimates of dock door expansion investment have been roughly 1–2%. Investment in LTL expansion goes beyond trucks and talent, it includes expansion and new construction of crossdocks that can be bottlenecks in volume growth. The health of today's LTL industry and forecast for the second half of 2022 and into 2023 have resulted in several carriers citing stronger investments in this area.

A sampling from three carriers suggests 21 new terminals and 1,500 dock doors are in near-term plans. Specifics across the LTL carrier community are not fully available to get a sense of the aggregate capacity plan.

This glimpse appears to show there is an investment sentiment in the LTL sector that will bring additional capacity and service in coming years.

LTL pricing insights

Expect LTL carriers to maintain pricing disciplines through 2022
While overall tonnage is showing some growth slowing, capacity growth continues to lag demand growth.

Anticipate accessorial charges to continue depending on freight attributes
LTL carriers are extremely focused on identifying freight characteristics that require additional cost coverage. Top examples include:

  • Extra length
  • Pickup and delivery locations with high cost attributes
  • Appointment or notification needed

Plan for carrier embargos
At least one LTL carrier has imposed embargos on several different retailer distribution centers due to long dwell or other operational inefficiency issues. Your C.H. Robinson account manager can offer additional details and help with alternate routings to these locations.

Reach out to your C.H. Robinson representative to see what diversification options exist for your freight portfolio. Developing a diverse carrier strategy could help lessen the impact of market price and service challenges—so you can prepare for today and possible Q3 and Q4 pressured markets.

Small Parcel

Peak season planning and expectations

Late deliveries can result in negative customer experiences, potentially leading to missed sales opportunities. The pressure on the parcel system through the pandemic moved on-time delivery performance down as low as 60% on average.

While performance has been improving since the beginning of this year, there are additional considerations:

  • On-time delivery continues to be well behind the 95–98% range experienced before the pandemic
  • Currently, average on-time delivery ranges between 85%–95%
  • Regions with the most significant delays include California, Michigan, and parts of the East coast. (Both origin and destination are factors. More significantly if they are the destination)

With the fall season of parcel shipping upon us, keep in mind the benefits of in-flight/in-transit visibility:

  • Visibility helps control freight spending and opens opportunities to save
  • Empowered customer services teams offer solutions through real-time shipment updates
  • Staffing plans are based on accurate inbound information for supplies and materials
  • End customer/consumer are made aware of shipment status via proactive web, mobile, email, and SMS messaging

Look for parcel shipping tools that not only offer analytics, but proactive tracking and notifications as well. For more ideas and solutions, see your C.H. Robinson sales or account manager.

Government and Regulations

TOP STORY: FLOW program works to improve congestion

On August 10, 2022, the U.S. DOT convened a meeting of the FLOW program. This is a voluntary data sharing program coordinated by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to improve visibility to potential congestion in the supply chain through cross-industry collaboration. The end goal is to help move goods faster and at a lower cost. Including C.H. Robinson, there are currently 36 organizations involved, and the list of participants continues to expand.

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