COLUMBUS, Ind. — Near-term freight markets are likely to continue close to the bottom of the charts, but holiday volatility and the coming new year are poised to shake things up a bit.
This is according to the latest release of the Freight Forecast, U.S. Rate and Volume OUTLOOK report from ACT Research.
“We see retail sales turning back to real growth this holiday season, after over a year of declines,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s vice president and senior analyst. “The acceleration in real disposable income growth as inflation slowed sharply this year, and the ongoing strong labor market, support a recovery in goods demand.”
Denoyer added that the end of destocking, rise in imports and recent easing in oil prices “improve our confidence that peak season will end on a higher note for freight demand. But although private fleet capacity expansion continues to pull freight from the for-hire market, we think equipment purchasing patterns are changing, which should propel the freight cycle forward in 2024.”
Spot load postings remain low, and while spot equipment posts have declined, the rebalancing of capacity is making little net progress with the industry still adding capacity.
Slowing Class 8 tractor sales — recent selling rates are already down 20% from the record 1H’23 level — means fewer new additions, and the pace of fleet exits remains historically elevated, so the removal of overcapacity is gaining momentum under the surface.
“With freight volumes broadly starting to pick up, the spot market is still loose heading into winter, but we expect the trajectory of rates to shift in 2024,” Denoyer concluded.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.