Freight volumes surpass the previous month again for the fourth consecutive time thanks to standout outbound cross-border activity.
TORONTO – Loadlink’s Canadian spot market witnessed the strongest year-over-year growth for a single month in over two years. On a monthly scale, load postings rose once again for the fourth consecutive month with 12 percent more loads available in September compared to August. Equipment numbers saw a small uptick, which allowed the truck-to-load balance to tip slightly in favour for carriers as growing demand outstripped supply.
At the end of September, third quarter load volumes surpassed the second quarter of the year by 39 percent, indicating the strong rebound that the Canadian spot market and the trucking industry has experienced as a whole since the pandemic began near the start of Q2 2020.
At the start of September, load volumes were up and held steady throughout the first week of the month, possibly in preparation for the arrival of the new school year despite the ongoing pandemic. The Labour Day holiday removed a business day’s worth of loads from the market, and foreshadowed lower posting volumes during that same week. The Canadian spot market bounced back at the halfway mark of the month by averaging a three percent increase in weekly loads throughout weeks two through four. The gradual weekly improvement culminated in the last week of September, which saw the highest load posting volumes since the pandemic began.
The boost in freight volumes may have also coincided with the end of Q3 2020 when shippers/brokers may have accelerated their freight postings to ensure orders were placed prior to entering the last quarter of the year. With the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, an uptick in loads is not surprising as the holiday necessitates increased activity to ensure produce and consumable inventory levels are topped off at supermarkets and grocers.
Historically, the Canadian spot market sees the end-of-month surge in freight in September prior to Thanksgiving, followed by a dip and slow period after the holiday.
Outbound Cross-border Activity
A large majority of the monthly increase in load volumes stemmed from outbound cross-border activity. Month-over-month, outbound cross-border loads were up 40 percent, while equipment postings fell five percent. Due to this sizeable jump, over 90 percent of the absolute increase in loads in September came from these outbound loads to the United States. Ontario and Quebec were both the origin of 43 percent more loads, respectively. Western Canada sourced 29 percent more loads, while Atlantic Canada surged 76 percent but on lesser overall volumes. On an annual basis, September’s outbound activity was also up 15 percent when compared to the same month last year.
Inbound Cross-border Activity
Contrary to the improvement in outbound cross-border activity, inbound activity load postings fell seven percent against an 11 percent increase in truck availability. Ontario and Quebec mimicked one another again as both saw eight percent less loads destined to both provinces, while Western Canada had four percent less loads. Atlantic Canada was the lone bright spot as the region had a slight increase in seven percent more loads. Despite the lower monthly performance, inbound loads were up 40 percent year-over-year, which helped contribute to an overall solid year-over-year comparison.
Domestic activity on Loadlink’s spot market saw an overall positive improvement with nine percent more loads and three percent more equipment. Year-over-year, domestic load postings were also up nine percent. The only markets with standout improved activity were outbound Quebec and Atlantic Canadian loads, which saw 36 and 27 percent more loads originating from these markets, respectively. In terms of where loads were destined, Western Canada saw 24 percent more loads.
In line with the substantial improvement in outbound cross-border activity, the busiest lanes that saw the largest percentage increases were all Canada to US lanes. Fourteen of the top 15 provincial market lanes, with the largest percentage gains, were outbound cross-border lanes with the domestic Quebec to Ontario lane holding the fifteenth position (holding the first domestic lane on the list). Quebec to Tennessee (+178%), Ontario to South Carolina (+120%) and Alberta to South Dakota (+105%) were the only lanes that saw over double the number of freight postings from August. The Quebec to Massachusetts lane came in close with a 94 percent improvement.
Loadlink Technologies also tracks the number of unique companies posting in each lane. During these times of economic recovery, this is a potential indicator of markets where manufacturers and shippers are seeing better activity; hence, brokerages are having access to more loads from customers in additional markets. The top five lanes that saw the largest percentage increase in unique companies posting in that lane were Alberta to South Dakota (+63%), Quebec to Tennessee (+58%), Ontario to South Carolina (+51%), Saskatchewan to Minnesota (+50%), and Quebec to Wisconsin (+46%).
Table 1: Lanes with the Largest Load Volume Increases Month over Month
*Based on lanes with at least 500 postings in September. Ranking is based on how many more loads that lane gained month over month, compared to all lanes visible on Loadlink (with minimum 500 postings).
Figure 1: Top 10 Lanes in September by Average Loads per Poster with Monthly Percentage Change
The following city-to-city lanes saw notable improvements in freight volumes on a monthly basis. For the second consecutive month, year-over-year comparisons continue to trend positively as more lanes saw improvements on an annual basis than on a monthly basis. Of the top 100 city lanes in September, 61 saw increased month-over-month comparisons, while 79 lanes saw positive year-over-year changes.
Table 2: Spotlight City-to-City Lanes with Notable Improvements
Average Truck-to-Load Ratios
In September, capacity tightened by seven percent to a ratio of 3.24 from a value of 3.50 in August. Year over year, September’s truck-to-load ratio was 17 percent lower compared to a ratio of 3.90 in September 2019.
About Loadlink Indexes
Rate Index data is based on the average spot rates paid by freight brokers and shippers to carriers in the specific lanes where loads are hauled. This data also shows real-time and historical available capacity, and total truck-to-load ratios.
Freight Index data provides insight on Canada’s economy at large, and is a primary resource for the trucking community. The Freight Index accurately measures trends in the truckload freight spot market as its components are comprised from roughly 6,000 Canadian carriers and freight brokers. This data includes all domestic, cross-border, and interstate data submitted by Loadlink customers.
About Loadlink Technologies
Loadlink Technologies helps Canadian transportation companies facilitate the critical movement of goods by trucks through the use of its technology. With decades of propelling innovation and by way of its modernized freight matching, the company helps its members drive better business performance and competitiveness while delivering new levels of customer experiences.
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