Seasonality…it’s a major factor in helping us to forecast and plan for the entire year. As we all know, the transportation industry is heavily influenced by supply and demand. Supply and demand set the tone for rates and capacity, or in brief, the state of the freight market. Market conditions of course vary on a year-over-year basis, however, a consistent pattern is apparent each season. This guide provides a synopsis on the four standard seasons in the transportation industry and the hot commodities and types of produce that are typically moving each month.
Logistics professionals commonly define four seasons in the freight industry:
Quiet Season (January-March)
Volume is down. The new year has started and the holiday season is over. The weather is not shipping-friendly with the low temperatures that winter brings. Volume starts to increase in March as spring approaches.
Produce Season (April-July)
Volume starts to pick up, causing the market to tighten as carriers have more loads to choose from and can be pickier. Finding a truck becomes more challenging, which causes rates to increase.
Peak Season (August-October)
Produce season is coming to an end, however, shippers will start to prepare for the back to school and holiday seasons. Volume and rates are both at their peak.
Holiday Season (November-December)
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are upon us. Shippers are rushing to get everything in or out before the holiday rush and don’t want to drag any freight into the new year.
The following pages outline the produce and hot commodities that are typically moving each month. Being aware of what’s moving and which regions are at their peak & steady shipping seasons helps to forecast and be on the forefront of market shifts.