FTR’s May Shippers Conditions Index Remains in Significantly Negative Territory

07.31.18 | FTR

The Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) reading from FTR remains in significantly negative territory in May at a -12.3 reading. The April SCI reading of -13.4 hit an all-time low reflecting the worse conditions for shippers ever measured by FTR.  While conditions continue to be tough for shippers, the environment for them could slowly stabilize through the year.  However, the overall conditions for shippers are still expected to remain negative through 2019.  Economic indicators generally suggest continued strength in freight volume, keeping capacity tight and rates up.

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

Todd Tranausky, senior transportation analyst at FTR, commented, “Shippers are in an extended period of difficult conditions because of a tight truck market and sub-par rail service. While conditions are expected to stabilize, there is unlikely to be a significant improvement for shippers before the end of the year.”

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. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem...and readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Double digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

The July issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published July 6, 2018, details the factors affecting the May Shippers Conditions Index, discussing the unaccustomed uncertainty introduced to the economy from tariffs and a potential trade war.

For more information about how to subscribe to the Shippers Update, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call Helen Lile at (888) 988-1699 ext. 1 and follow us on Twitter @FTRintel.

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.
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About FTR
For more than two decades, FTR has been the thought leader in freight transportation forecasting in North America. The company’s national award-winning forecasters collect and analyze all data likely to impact freight movement, issuing consistently reliable reports for trucking, rail, and intermodal transportation, as well as providing demand analysis for commercial vehicle and railcar. FTR’s forecasting and specially designed reports have resulted in advanced planning and cost-savings for companies throughout the transportation sector.