ACT Research forecast shows freight market facing shortages, bottlenecks, imbalances

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Ship at Port of Los Angeles
A backlog of containerships waiting to unload at Southern California ports could indicate strong freight volume that will continue into 2021.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — According to the latest installment of ACT Research’s Freight Forecast, U.S. Rate and Volume Outlook report, the backlogs facing the nation’s freight industry could mean strong growth after the holidays.

“Freight is typically not a backlog business, but in the holiday season of 2020, with imports at record levels, we have a flotilla of containerships off Southern California waiting to unload. This bottleneck suggests strong freight volume growth will continue even after the holiday season, as retailers restock inventories,” said Tim Denoyer, vice president and senior analyst for ACT Research.

“The freight market imbalance of strong demand and tight driver capacity should begin to rebalance gradually after the holidays, as there is early evidence of initial easing in the driver shortage,” he continued. “But this month, we add a steel shortage to the list of the economic shocks emanating from COVID-19, which threatens to impact Q1’21 manufacturing activity.”

ACT Research’s monthly 56-page Freight Forecast offers three-year projections for volumes and contract rates for the truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal sectors of the transportation industry. For the truckload spot market, the report forecasts rates for the next 12 to 15 months.

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