We expect capacity to tighten throughout the remainder of 2019, albeit not to the extent we saw a year ago. The fundamental difference is in the direction of the freight market, which was in the process of cooling after a heated 18 months. Spot rates have been sideways through much of the third and fourth quarters but are elevated over 1H levels. We expect volumes to trail off after the first few weeks following Thanksgiving but there will be less capacity available as drivers are dispatched into smaller regions in order to be home for the holidays. Spot rates will be very unstable during December, especially as service windows tighten.
Some of the more volatile sectors to watch this month will be around the Midwest and Northeast as retail inventories move around the major metro centers where a majority of the consumption takes place. Note that those regions are also prone to sudden and severe winter weather events. The Northeastern corridor has already seen a surge in overall freight volumes this year due to shippers’ growing preference to import through the East Coast. Carriers avoid this region due to higher cost of operation and low mileage runs — be prepared to pay more for December spot capacity in that region.