- The capacity shortage in the trucking market continued into May as spot load posts were up 290% YoY and truck postings were down nearly 15% YoY, according to the latest figures from DAT.
- This dynamic kept the load-to-truck ratio elevated, increasing almost 220% YoY for vans, 674% YoY for flatbeds and 324% YoY for reefers.
- Strong demand resulted in rates continuing to rise MoM and YoY across van, flatbed and reefer, according to DAT.
Spot demand hits capacity shortage
The issue of capacity has been hanging over the trucking market for months at this point and executives aren't voicing any confidence about it improving any time soon.
"We don't see ... capacity being solved any way, shape or form for the remainder of this year," Schneider National CEO Mark Rourke said early last month.
But that doesn't mean there haven't been any encouraging signs. While the reefer load-to-truck ratio remained elevated, the weekly reefer equipment posts were the highest they have been all year earlier this month, according to Dean Croke, DAT principal analyst.
This is "normally an indicator that capacity is loosening slightly," Croke said in a market update last week.
But the ability for carriers to add capacity is also limited by parts shortages that are holding back truck, trailer and chassis production, according to the most recent Cass freight report.
The demand for trucking volume is expected to continue moving forward as retail sales remain high and retailer inventories remain low. But analysts also see demand outside of retail.
"While not as large as retail in terms of overall freight generation, capital goods spending is freight intensive, and the coming capex boom will certainly benefit freight demand in the next few quarters," ACT Research's Vice President and Senior Analyst Tim Denoyer said in an emailed statement.
Railroads are one group that view the tight capacity in the trucking market as an upside. If truck rates become expensive enough, some shippers can shift to intermodal rail.
"The team is encouraged by the positive economic momentum," CSX CFO Kevin Boone said in a recent earnings call. "Underlying demand is growing, truckload capacity is tight and inventory levels are low."