FTR's March Shippers Conditions Index eases to -7.3 from -9.5 in February, indicating improved but still negative environment for shippers, as limited demand growth keeps shipping costs in check

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

May 17, 2013 – FTR Associates

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana , May 17, 2013 (press release) – FTR Associates’ Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for March eased from February’s level of -9.5 reading to a current reading of -7.3, indicating a slightly improved but still negative environment for shippers. 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. Trucking capacity and supply remain in precarious balance at the moment, with very limited demand growth keeping shipping costs in check. However, shipping conditions are projected to deteriorate further as freight improves seasonally and regulatory changes kick in, restricting driver productivity. Details of the factors affecting the March Shippers Conditions Index are found in the May issue of FTR’s Shippers Update published May 10.

Lawrence Gross, Senior Consultant for FTR commented “Current shipping conditions remain calm but storm clouds are on the horizon. Every indication is that the Hours of Service regulatory changes will occur as scheduled July 1, which FTR projects will reduce trucking productivity by about 3%. While our estimate of the productivity hit is less severe than some, even a 3% decline will be sufficient to tip the balance of supply and demand significantly away from shippers, assuming the economy continues to maintain at least the anemic growth levels seen recently. This will usher in an extended period of difficulty for shippers, as there is an array of new regulations lined up behind the HOS change that will further impact trucking in the months and even years to come”

Commentary included in the current issue of the Shippers Update discusses the outlook for freight growth and how long the current stable environment will continue. For more information about how to subscribe to the Shippers Update, send an e-mail to sales@ftrassociates.com or call 888-988-1699 ext. 1.

The Shippers Update, launched by FTR Associates during 2010 as a part of the firm’s Freight Focus Series, 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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