Volumes have continued to burst all around the country this week. Carriers are rejecting loads at rates only seen during the March panic-buying spree buildup.
Spot rates have been bid up above 2019 levels in many markets around the country, but it is unlikely that this trend continues given there is typically a significant drop-off in outbound volume after the Fourth. However, volumes are so high currently that even a significant decline could still keep OTVI above 2018/2019 comparables.
Outbound tender volumes continued to gush in many regions around the country this week. The Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI) is now almost at 13,000 for only the second time in its three-year history, with the first coming just three months ago during the March panic-induced buying spree.
The current volume of freight flowing in the U.S. cannot be overstated — besides the March demand spike, there has not been freight demand like this in recent history. 2018 was considered a banner year for freight volume and OTVI currently sits more than 14% above the 2018 high point.
There is typically a surge in volumes leading up to Independence Day as shippers try to clear as much inventory as possible before the close of the second quarter.
After a lost April and depressed May, we believe shippers are particularly focused on pushing freight to paint the second quarter as rosy as possible. Independence Day often marks the beginning of the midsummer slowdown that drags on throughout July and August before picking up at the edge of autumn. If 2020 is to follow historical patterns, we should expect this extremely high volume level to last only a few more days. That said, 2020 has followed very few historical patterns, so there is a great deal of uncertainty about where demand will be in the third quarter.