FTR Associates’ Shippers Conditions Index for February fell more than two points month-over-month to a reading of negative 9.5, following a similar decline in January, reflecting increasingly difficult conditions for shippers as 2013 progresses.
The index is forecast to be “choppy” over the next few months, with further deterioration occurring in the second half of the year. The introduction of the new hours-of-service rules in July is expected to reduce driver productivity, resulting in a “substantial tightening” of already tight truck capacity, according to the report. FTR continues to predict rate acceleration, which will increase shipping costs as the effects of the hours-of-service rules play out.
“Although substantial uncertainty exists with regard to the near-term path of the economy, shippers need to be prepared for a difficult second half of the year,” said Lawrence Gross, senior consultant for FTR, in a written statement. “We believe that 2013 will be the door-opener for a prolonged period of difficulties that could last several years.”