Dry van loadings up 0.7% in April
May 31, 2012
There are no major changes in our outlook this month. We still 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. Volumes improved in April following a downwardly revised March. Dry Van loadings were up 0.7% from March to April, hitting 21.372 million loadings. Loadings were significantly improved on a year-over-year basis – they had been flat or negative for the last six months but were up 1.5% in April. Volumes have been trending higher since a surge of activity in December.
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 were flat or modestly negative for most of 2011 but have been moving higher since December.
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 1.2% in Q1.
We expect loadings to show modest growth in early 2012 before accelerating in the latter half of the year and leading to a stronger 2013. The year-over-year comparison finally moved into solidly positive territory in April. That trend should continue with growth around 4% in the second half of the year. Growth will continue in 2012, rising 2.3%, with further acceleration in 2013 of 3.4% (previously 3.9%) and in 2014, up 4.0%.
At about 50% of the total market, dry van loadings are generally tracking with the overall growth in trucking. Weakness in some food segments and the consumer retail markets are keeping growth just below the industry average. 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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