Longhaul domestic freight driving May recovery, signaling a strong June – FreightWaves

Chart of the Week: Longhaul Outbound Tender Volume Index, Loaded Domestic Rail Containers, International Loaded Rail Containers – USA SONAR: LOTVI.USA, ORAILDOML.USA, ORAILINTL.USA

According to FreightWaves national Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI) and rail volume data that measures domestic loaded intermodal container moves (ORAILDOML), the freight market hit a bottom around the middle of April. The OTVI hit its lowest non-national-holiday point in its two-year history on April 16 of 8,439, 13% below previous year. Domestic container volumes had a similar result, moving 20% under 2019 in the same week. Since then, long haul freight has outpaced shorter haul freight growth by a wide margin. The length of haul can tell us a few things about how the freight market is recovering and what stage it is currently experiencing.

Traditionally, long haul freight that moves more than 800 miles is replenishment freight. Replenishment freight is what moves from national warehouses, normally around the coastal cities and main border crossing areas, to regional distribution centers (DCs) before moving to their final point of consumption either in a store or to the end user. The COVID-19 outbreak has eliminated some sections of the supply chain for “essential” freight, with orders bypassing intermediate stops along the journey to final destinations to save time.

During the initial wave of the pandemic hitting the U.S., freight volumes surged 30% in three weeks in March. Freight moving less than 250 miles outpaced longer