FTR Shippers Conditions Index Improves in November, but Concerns Linger


Bloomington, IN (January 13, 2014) FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) conditions for November, at -6.0, continued to reflect a negative environment for shippers despite improving for the third straight month after hitting a low point in August. This index will continue to moderate mildly as regulatory pressures are temporarily reduced because of weak freight multipliers due to a shift in the economic mix from industry to service. However, FTR reports some evidence from the field of continued tightening capacity which presents some serious downside risks to shippers.

Click here to view the latest release and an interactive graph of the SCI>

Eric Starks, President for FTR, commented: “We are currently seeing things tighten up in the market, and it is not yet reflected in the November numbers. I would expect to see the SCI index weaken further as we move through the first quarter. This is not a good sign for shippers. The biggest concern right now is a tightening in trucking capacity. In early December, we saw a spike in capacity utilization and it was exacerbated by the recent storms. It will be interesting to see if the tightness continues as we start to approach February. If it does, then we will likely see a surge in shipping rates for all of 2014, as shippers typically put out bids and lock-in contract rates in the first quarter for the balance of the year.”

The Shippers Conditions Index is a compilation of factors affecting shippers transport environment. Any reading below zero indicates a less-than-ideal environment for shippers. Readings below 10 signal that conditions for shippers are approaching critical levels, based on available capacity and expected rates. 

Details of the factors affecting the November Shippers Conditions Index, along with additional commentary discussing how U.S. government policies are likely to affect trucking in 2014, are included in the January issue of FTR’s Shippers Update published January 10, 2014.

The Shippers Update, launched by FTR during 2010 as a part of the firm’s Freight Focus, looks at conditions that will affect the cost and efficiency of shipping goods via all transportation modes. North American shippers will find in one reference the essential information they need on freight volumes, equipment capacity and transport costs and rates. The Shippers Update has both history and forecasts for four modal options: truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal and rail carload. The analysis includes the breakdown of total truck and rail volumes into major commodity segments. It also provides historical snapshots of inland water and air freight markets. The freight data is augmented by an abundant collection of supporting data covering macro-economics and the fuel market.

For more information about how to subscribe to the Shippers Update, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call (888) 988-1699 ext. 1.