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Freight rates impact on shippers’ conditions most negative in FTR’s SCI history

July 27, 2021
Only a strong improvement in trucking capacity utilization during May helped offset the grueling rate environment, FTR reported in their Shippers Conditions Index.

FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for May, as reported in the July Shippers Update, improved marginally to -11.3. However, freight rates impact on shippers’ conditions were the most negative in the history of the index. Only a strong improvement in trucking capacity utilization during the month helped offset this grueling rate environment. Fuel costs also swung from a small positive in April to a small negative in May. Overall, the market has not changed for shippers, and remains extremely challenging.

“It remains a period of tough sledding for shippers as utilization and rates will remain difficult factors to offset in the near term,” said Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR. “The fall peak season will add increasing pressure to supply chains and could create additional negative pressure in the index over that period.”

The July issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published July 7, provides a detailed analysis of the factors affecting the May Shippers Conditions Index and provides the forecast for this index through May of 2022. Included in this month’s report are details on how a recent revision in historical industrial production data affects FTR’s truck freight volume forecasts.

The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance.