Truckload shipping volumes increased 2 to 3 percent in June from the previous month, with rates rising 4 to 5 percent, according to Longbow Research.
The equity research firm said some carriers reported the best volume and revenue weeks of the year to date in June, while others said March was slightly stronger.
Longbow’s research supported economic indicators and anecdotal evidence that June was a better month for shippers and carriers than April or May.
The Cass Freight Index for U.S. shipping reached its highest level in three years in June, growing 4.9 percent from May as companies filled back orders.
“We saw our highest order volumes of the year” in late June, U.S. Xpress Enterprises Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey S. Wardeberg told The Journal of Commerce.
As volumes rise and capacity contracts, shippers are rethinking their distribution strategies and truckload carriers are adding new services.
“We continue to hear that shipper interest in dedicated relationships” is growing, Longbow said, “as shippers are determined to avoid any capacity shortages.”
Demand for tank trailers from paint and chemical shippers also is rising, a positive indicator for manufacturing, Longbow said in a July 13 note to investors.
The slow pace of economy recovery should keep truckload rate from climbing much higher than the 4 to 5 percent increases many carriers reported to Longbow.
“The high single-digit pricing growth that some carriers were hoping for this year is looking unlikely unless we get a strong fall peak season,” the company said.
Spot market truckload rates rose 4.5 percent in June from May, according to TransCore Freight Solutions, as truckload capacity dropped 7 percent.