If you are new to the trucking industry you might have probably noticed that you have got a little more home time this past month than you normally do. While seasoned truck drivers are prepared for the slower freight volumes that come just after the holiday season, new drivers may be wondering what is going on. Having less freight to pull is pretty much an industry norm depending on what your company hauls as part of their primary service. January and February, sometimes even March, are slower times as the economy slows after the holiday season.
Knowing the freight seasonality will help you understand the dynamics of freight volume and how to plan when the industry slows down all over again.
Let us look at the four seasons of the trucking industry and what you can expect.
What are the 4 seasons of freight transportation?
- January through March: Enjoy Your Home Time
It is the slow time of the year, also known as the “Quiet Months” and during this time freight volume is down. The holiday shipping season is over, and the transportation industry is recovering from the hectic holiday shipping and slowly getting back on its feet. Most companies rotate their drivers through the cycle of short haul/long haul balancing the runs. The freight volume gradually increases in March as we get closer to Spring months.
- April through July: The Produce Shipping Season
It is that time again. Temperatures are rising, days are getting longer, and shippers are gearing up for a busy produce season. Even if you are not in the produce industry, spring through early summer marks a time of tightened capacity, increased rates, and scheduling constraints—especially for companies shipping refrigerated products. The rates and capacity for non-produce shippers may change considerably because carriers are switching to produce loads because they pay off more. In these situations, many shippers that did not research their regions (to understand how they produce season will affect them) become desperate to move their goods.
- August through October: The Peak Season
This is an interesting time in the trucking industry. Overwhelming produce season is coming to an end, however, the next three months customer sales explode. Orders increase and therefore shipping volumes increase as well. Everyone prepares for the “back to school” season and gets ready for the holidays. Companies are shipping their products in and out of their warehouses because the sales are typically up, so they need to make sure they are all set for the holiday season. As for the freight volume and rates, they are at their peak.
- November to December: The Holiday Season/ Make hay while the sun shines
This is undoubtedly the busiest time in the trucking industry. It is the holiday season! Everyone is buying presents for their loved ones. Shippers are also rushing to get everything done and complete their last orders before Holiday closures. It is so busy that, at times, you will wish it were already January. Seasoned drivers will sacrifice home time to make more money now, while it is busy, knowing that they will have more than enough home time in January and February.
With that being said, the four seasons of the transportation industry help you forecast and stay on top of the market changes.