By now, most industry observers and analysts agree that the U.S. truckload market has slowed significantly, part of a broader goods normalization and hangover in our COVID-recovery. Multiple spot rate benchmarks have been falling for months; capacity metrics have loosened. Accepted contract loads (CLAV.USA) peaked in October 2021 and just took a sharper turn downward.
National outbound tender rejections (OTRI.USA), which measure the percentage of truckload shipments tendered by shippers that are rejected by trucking carriers, fell to a new cycle low of 5.05%. That’s a very low level last seen in May 2020, when the economy was climbing out of its lockdown-induced deep freeze. When freight is plentiful and trucking carriers have options, they reject contract shipments for higher-paying spot loads and tender rejections rise. But when the market softens, carriers worry about filling their trucks and take all the contract freight they can get, lowering tender rejections.
Trucking carriers have reacted to the slowing business environment by deploying their assets on power lanes between major markets that are still dense with activity. But that tactic has had the effect of driving tender rejections in the largest U.S. markets even lower than the national average.
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