Dry van loadings flat in March
May 3, 2012
We expect dry van demand to track with the industry as a whole, unless the service sector achieves normal recovery growth rates. Should that happen, this consumer-heavy segment will perform above the overall market. March continued the relatively flat market that has been occurring for six months now. Dry Van loadings were unchanged following an upwardly revised February, staying at 21.270 million loadings. Loadings were down 0.5% on a year-over-year basis – they have been flat or negative for the last six months.
Dry Van freight fell in 2007 and then started dropping hard in late 2008. It bottomed out in Q3 of 2009 and then rose for six consecutive quarters before easing in the middle of 2011. Loadings have been essentially flat since moving lower in April 2011. Loadings fell 10.9% during 2009. Volume rebounded strongly in 2010, showing a gain of 5.0%. Loadings rose a more modest 2.7% in 2011 (revised up from 2.3% last month). On a quarter-over-quarter basis, loadings have improved the last 2 quarters, rising 0.5% in Q4 and 1.0% in Q1.
We expect loadings to show modest growth in 2012 before accelerating in the latter half of the year and leading to a stronger 2013. The year-over-year comparison should finally start moving back towards a 4% growth rate starting in April. Growth will continue in 2012, rising 2.4% with further acceleration in 2013 and 2014 of 3.9% and 4.4%, respectively.
At about 50% of the total market, dry van loadings are generally tracking with the overall growth in trucking. Strength in auto production and a modest recovery in housing will benefit sub-segments for auto parts and appliances.
U.S. Truck Loadings is the estimated number of truck loads originated in the United States plus truck loads that come to U.S. destinations from Mexico and Canada. It is tons divided by the average tons per truck. FTR’s data is seasonally adjusted and measures both short and long-haul OTR segments.
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