Outlook Positive for 2021, Say Experts

January 12, 2021

Can we all just breathe a sigh of relief at the passing of 2020? Is the uncertainty of the market behind us? Not quite yet—but according to industry experts, the first half of 2021 is looking good.  

And it isn't just wishful thinking. There are reasons backing the forecast:

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Week One of 2021

January 5, 2021

Looking at the data for the first week of January is like waiting at the end of a drumroll before a big announcement. Will post-holiday volumes return strong this week or just how will the freight market set sail in 2021?  >There are several strong indications that a healthy and robust first quarter will be on tap, the first sign being that retail inventory levels were super low coming out of Q3. 

Read the full report.

The U.S. Logistics Market
2020 Recap & Outlook

Dec. 29, 2020

This past year also reinforced the idea that relationships in the supply chain are monumentally important. Long-term connections that encourage respect and provide driver-friendly conditions have as much to do with a successful logistics plan as the important data that goes into every transaction.

How robust will 2021’s freight market be? That will depend on a recovering economy, which will depend on the success and quick distribution of the vaccine. So far, it looks promising and analysts are forecasting economic growth in 2021.

Read the full report.

Wrapping up the Year 

Bring it on, 2021!  

Dec. 22, 2020

In less than two weeks, we begin a new year and bid farewell to a disruptive 2020. The virus has changed our lives, and already, we have become nostalgic for the pre-pandemic world. We search for headlines that mention when and how we expect to get back to "normal." Everything is different. The way we gather (or don't) for holidays, weddings, birthdays and entertainment. The way we work. The way we consume, and yes, the way shippers schedule and move their freight.

Read the full report.

Peak Holiday Season - Round Two 

Spot Market to Tighten by Week's End

Dec. 15, 2020

If there is one thing we can say about this year's holiday season it is this: It marks the only time since the beginning of the pandemic that we can look at historical data as a predictive analytic. As Tony Soprano would say about the first three quarters, "Fuggedaboutit!" They were distinct outliers in terms of anything the industry had seen before and unreliable as reference data, but this Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to be following the familiar pattern of years past (although much higher volumes).

Read the full report.

Volumes Rebound after Holiday as Consumer Sentiment Remains High

Dec. 8, 2020

There are only three more weeks before Christmas and it is hard to predict what will happen after the holidays in regards to volume, capacity and rates. We are already seeing volumes snap back after Thanksgiving and they are expected to remain strong through Christmas. 

Read the full report.

Volumes Dip but Rates Increase?
Yes, it's True

Dec. 1, 2020

The push to get last-minute freight out the door before Thanksgiving caused overall rates to go up slightly, even though volumes were down. 


Freight volumes and outbound tender rejections typically take a swan dive once a holiday hits and this Thanksgiving was no exception. But don't let that holiday dip in volume fool you. Freight that didn't make it out the door before turkey day is now on loading docks ready to roll out this week. The same above-average volume we saw before Thanksgiving is likely to continue with a new push for Christmas and other holiday freight until the end of the year.

Read the full report.

Now more than ever, you should 

Nov. 24, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving week! Freight volumes and rejection rates are making history this week with record high numbers. Spot rates are also at an all-time high and are expected to rise over the next few weeks. Truckers are trying to head home for the holidays and capacity is tight. Now is the time to watch for those few lanes where capacity may be temporarily loose and take advantage of rates in those areas when you can. 

Read the full report.

Spot Demand Falls but Carriers Still Control; Rates & Vaccines Appear Near

Nov 17, 2020

It makes no difference if you are watching the contract or spot market, volumes and rates this peak season have been on an upward trajectory and regardless of a dip last week in volumes, experts anticipate a strong finish to the year. This past week van capacity in the contract market has tightened on the East coast, but there are areas where rejection rates dropped slightly in the Midwest and Southwest. Reefer rejection rates, on the other hand, have hit some remarkable high numbers. Yesterday, 79.26% of all reefer freight moving from Kansas City to Little Rock was being rejected.


Read the full report.

Up Up Up - Volume, Spending, Rejection Rates, and Consumer Confidence 

Nov 10, 2020


Here we are, now officially in peak season for the holidays. Since the onset of the pandemic, consumers have learned that shipping lead-times are not what they used to be pre-COVID-19, even with Amazon Prime. Add in a projected $190 billion from e-commerce holiday sales alone, and things could get seriously dicey. 

Read the full report.

Election Day 2020 

As Unpredictable as This Year's Freight Market 

Nov 3, 2020

It is election day, and supply chain professionals are casting their votes for the candidate they think will have the most positive impact on issues affecting our industry such as trade, infrastructure, taxes, deregulation, employment and the economy. Just like the freight market this year, the election outcome is hard to predict.

Read the full report.

Capacity Loosens, but for how Long?

October 27, 2020

Shippers have become accustomed to tight capacity and higher rates over the last few months. Many have changed their strategy from trying to get costs down to simply securing capacity. There is no denying it has been tough on everyone's bottom line, but this week there is some good news to share.

Read the full report.

An Uneven Freight Market Shows Signs of Flattening

October 20, 2020

Over the last several months we have witnessed outbound tender volumes that are extremely high compared to last year and outbound tender rejection rates equally astounding. Why then, are overall U.S. freight volumes down 3% year-over-year? 

Read the full report.

Watch for Opportunities in the Market 
& Extend Lead Times

October 13, 2020

Last week's market brief talked about the strong freight market and what that means for shippers. As a follow up, the Choptank blog last Friday offered some expert advice on how to deal with the current issues surrounding rising rates and short capacity. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Read the full report.

A Strong Freight Market and What it Means for Shippers

October 6, 2020

A "strong" freight market means the industry is experiencing extremely high shipping volumes. Normally that is a sign of a burgeoning economy and should be good news for shippers, however, there is a thorn in the side of the current situation--the same thorn that bedeviled the industry in 2018. I am talking about the growing capacity shortage. Demand has far outgrown the truck supply and contract and spot rates are out of wack.

Read the full report.

Tight Reefer Capacity Throughout the Country

Sept 29, 2020

October is a pivotal month to watch since it can be an indicator of a strengthening or weakening market for the fourth quarter. In 2018, October volumes were subtly higher at the end of the month than in the beginning, however in 2019, volumes lost steam throughout the month, ending a bit lower than the month started. As crazily unpredictable as this year has been with disruptions caused by COVID-19, major changes in consumer's buying habits, and multiple weather and fire events, it is unclear what "peak" season will look like.

Read the full report.

Strong Market, Strong Upward Pressure on Rates and Capacity Continues

Sept 22, 2020

Happy first day of Autumn!

A snapshot of this week's freight market shows widespread high freight volumes throughout the country and the continuation of high rates on the spot market. 

The national outbound tender volume index (OTVI) has leveled off some, but like outbound tender rejection rates, it is also high compared to last year... 50 percent higher than the last two years to be exact. There are no signs of volumes dropping significantly (which would need to happen before we see rejection rates and tight capacity pricing normalize). 

Read the full report.

The Seasons are Changing: Is the Market?

Sept 15, 2020

There are rumblings that the market may be turning towards a slight correction. On Friday we saw the first dip in tender rejection rates in weeks, but hold on, other indicators contradict that notion. 

With an election year and the possibility of another stimulus check, it is anybody's guess. Over the last several weeks, a lot of volume has come out of the West Coast, with carriers flocking to the best rates, leaving the East Coast suddenly high and dry. Tender rejections in California, Nevada and Arizona have flattened some while the Northeast is suffering from extremely tight capacity. Virginia to Maine had the highest rejection rates in the U.S. on Friday at 27%. Carriers, come back! 

Read the full report.

Capacity Tight, Rates Remain Up

September 8, 2020

As the saying goes, what goes up must come down, but not just yet in the freight market. Capacity remains tight in the United States, declining to a 22-month low while rates are still moving upward. Truck pricing on the spot market reached a 19-month high last week. 

Spot rates have increased 30% year over year and with the holiday season just ahead, capacity is expected to remain tight throughout the end of 2020.

Read the full report.

Weekly Market Brief

September 2, 2020

The Outbound Tender Rejection Index (OTRI) is holding steady at unprecedented high levels, affecting just about everyone in the industry. Shippers who have relied on contract rates are now finding that their 'secured' carriers are heading for greener pastures on the spot market where carrier rates are more favorable. 

Since May, 2020, the OTRI has surpassed even 2018 numbers when the bull market was in full swing, driving rates higher and further choking capacity.

Choptank's latest integration with Blue Yonder is helping combat some of this tight market. Choptank now can offer a dynamic price discovery solution to its pipeline of customers, providing an even larger carrier base for its shippers. 

Read the full report.

Weekly Market Brief

August 25, 2020

Storms and Roadchecks

Weather conditions looming off the coast of the United States may be a factor affecting the market this week. Marco was a bust, thank goodness, reaching a Category 1 hurricane status before hitting landfall, but then quickly dissipating into little more than some heavy rainfall and manageable wind conditions. Tropical Storm Laura, on the other hand, is only a few days behind Marco and is showing signs of being a bigger threat. Predicted to be a  Category 2 hurricane, it is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Texas-Louisiana coastline by Wednesday. If there is a lot of damage from the storm, it has the potential to pull capacity from the market for recovery and rebuilding efforts.  

Read the full report.

Weekly Market Brief

August 18, 2020

In early July one industry headline stated, "Current Volume Level is Likely Unsustainable," but as we now know, it has been more than just sustainable. Freight volumes are still on an upward trajectory and surprising the experts week over week. As a result, capacity is under pressure and carrier pricing has been steadily rising. Volumes have surpassed both 2019 and 2018 at this time of year by between 20% - 25%.

According to data from Freightwaves, one in every five loads is being rejected, so don't be surprised this week if you continue to experience limited truck availability. With the holidays soon approaching, the typical slowdown this time of year may never happen. 

Read the full report.

Weekly Market Brief

August 11, 2020

The hurricane didn't cause as much damage relative to others in the past, but it did not help an already volatile market as rates are still increasing and capacity is still very scarce.  Each week the volume and tender rejects seems to find new heights.  The numbers also show that seasonality is out the window as we continue to venture into unknown market territory.

Read the full report.

Weekly Market Brief

August 4, 2020

The big news this week is twofold. First is the arrival of tropical storm Isaias, (a name only The Weather Channel announcers can pronounce) which is now officially a hurricane. Some of the heaviest freight volume this week is along the East Coast corridor, directly in the storm's path, so expect possible delays and disruptions due to high winds, excessive rainfall and flash flooding. 


Also of note this week is the amount of freight volume in the market. Capacity is tightening with outbound tender rejection rates hitting an all-time high for 2020. Talk about a volatile market! Just five months ago in March we saw historically low truck rates and now, rates are hitting historical highs (see the DHL Power Pricing Index below). The third quarter is traditionally a time of slow down in the market, but this year we have seen a long and steady rise. 


Read the full report.

Weekly Market Brief

July 28, 2020

This week's freight market is reaffirming what we already know from the last several months--this is no typical year in the supply chain. Historically speaking, mid-July is the month we should start seeing volumes drop with pricing following  like a faithful canine. But with this year's upset due to the pandemic, volumes are still holding strong in many areas, and what comes next is anybody's guess. 


California has remained a strong market over the last month, and this week we are seeing spikes in both the Ontario and Sacramento where there is extremely tight truck capacity. Other markets showing capacity issues this week are Harrisburg and Allentown, Pennsylvania. Both of these markets are in the top five highest increases in the country, week-over-week, for tender rejection rates. Also of note is the Denver market, which is exhibiting some of the most rapidly softening conditions.

Read the full report.

Weekly Market Brief

July 21, 2020

Now that DOT week is behind us and some produce areas are slowing down, capacity has loosened up. We are still experiencing heavy volume pockets around the country, such as California, (Los Angeles and Fresno in particular) and Texas,(Houston and Ft. Worth), while other places like Jacksonville, Florida and Savannah, GA are showing strong volume decreases. 


One of the factors we watch to evaluate the freight market is the manufacturing sector. A recent  Empire State Manufacturing Index survey shows that New York and Pennsylvania manufacturers have seen positive numbers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. (See graph below). Although it is not necessarily indicative of the whole country, it is a bit of good news in an uncertain economy.  


Read the full report.

Weekly Market Brief

July 14, 2020

63,200 individuals in the United States tested positive for COVID-19 in a single day just last Thursday. That is a record. Since the rise in infections are mostly in southern states such as Texas, Georgia, Arizona, and Florida, panic-buying is returning and capacity is tightening in these areas. Adding even more stress to the market is this week's arrival of the annual DOT road inspections. Read the full report.

Weekly market updates help you identify areas where freight capacity is tight as well as areas that are loose and easier to cover. This helps you better understand the market and provides a basis for your pricing.



Choptank Transport: Market Report Apr/May 2020

Like the famous words of Captain James T. Kirk, we are boldly going “where no man has gone before,” and I am not talking about the outermost regions of space. I am talking about right here on terra firma. Sure, we’ve had plagues and pandemics before, but never with the population, economy, and intricate network of transportation and travel that we have in the 21st century. It is a brave new world, alright, and we are scrambling to adapt and adopt.

Luckily, adversity is the mother of invention, and it is evident in the way we as humans are adapting to the global pandemic. Shippers who are lucky enough to be manufacturing are facing serious challenges, such as working with reduced staff, dealing with volatility in order patterns, finding a need for alternate sourcing, and navigating around unclear government regulations that differ from state to state. Despite the chaos, freight keeps moving, and shippers are finding new and sometimes better ways to get the job done.

Read the Market Report here.

Download Apr/May  Market Report

Choptank Transport Market Report: Q1 2020

Looking at the freight market in Q1 of 2020 is much like watching the new season of Ozark on Netflix; it first requires a brief look at what came before. My personal binge-watching policy dictates that before diving into a new season, I do a quick recap of the last two episodes to get the full impact of what is going on now.

So, let’s review what was happening in Q4 of 2019 in the freight industry. Everyone summed up the year by comparing it to the bull market of 2018, with slight resignation but hopefulness. The overriding sentiment was that even though the market in 2019 paled in comparison to the previous year, the industry was still experiencing growth, and we had 2020 to catch up. 

Read the full report ...

Download Logistics Market Report Q1 2020

Choptank Transport Market Report Q4 Year End

Record truck orders and record freight volumes in 2018 served as the backdrop for a significant correction to the market in 2019. The year began with a plethora of trucks and freight volumes underperforming expectations. It is estimated that there are approximately 75,000 more tractors available than there is freight to fill them.1 Shipments became easier to cover, and as a result, carrier rates were historically low. Even though economic growth continued in an upward trajectory, it was at a much slower pace than the previous year and not enough to compensate for the overabundance of equipment.

Read the full report ... 

Download Market Report Q4 Year End 2019


Choptank Transport Market Report Q3

The freight market is notorious for having a life of its own, but the difference between 2018 and 2019 was an eyebrow-raiser for sure. Industry experts say the 2018 spikes in volume were higher, and the declines more rapid, than ever before. In Q3, we saw what appears to be the beginning of a correction to the market, a good sign for the industry.

The beginning of Q3 initially looked dismal with loose capacity, tender rejection at an all-time low, and freight volume significantly down from last year. It was good news for shippers who were pleased with high tender acceptance rates. Finding trucks was easy, and pricing was significantly down from 2018.  On the flip side, less demand and not moving as much freight mean less business growth for shippers.

Read the full market report ...

Download Market Report Q2 2019


Choptank Market Report Q2 Update

The transportation market has been like a yo-yo over the last year and at the end of Q2 there are signs of an uptick in volume, but rates are still low and capacity is still good in most areas. Read our report to learn the latest. 

Read more ...

Download Market Report Q2 2019

Choptank Transport Market Report Q2

According to economists and supply chain experts, this year's freight market will be nothing like last year. The further we get into 2019, the more forecasters are adjusting their predictions for economic growth, expecting less than originally stated. 

Read more ...

 Current Market Report April May

Market Report Q1 2018

After coming down off the bull market of 2018 when unparalleled economic growth resulted in record-high rates and short capacity, January may have been a disappointment for some. Lower than last year's record success, the manufacturing sector is experiencing a steady 3% growth rate, year-over-year at present. That might sound disheartening, but keep in mind, this is the traditional “slow" time of the freight year and it is still growth. If you’re worried about our economy, take notice of other countries, like Europe, who are seeing a much more drastic decline in economic prosperity with Brexit looming and tariffs of their own to worry about. The truth is, the whole global economy is slowing down.  read more and download below!

JAN/FEB Market Report

Choptank Transport Market Report 2018 in Review

By Brian Fox  |  Dec 2018

A lot has happened in the world of transportation and logistics in 2018.  This could be a novel about all the things that happened in 2018 and the many predictions for 2019.  Above all of the headlines, though, we have lived through the strongest year for spot and contract pricing increases in the history of trucking in the U.S. 25% increases in the spot market rate, 30 percent in dry van and reefer, and spot market rate increases of over 25 percent in flatbed; which were followed by contract rate increases of over 15 percent in all three modes!  All that data could point to another turbulent and soaring market in 2019.  However, and lucky us, there is a mountain of data to dig into and the picture becomes clearer after some good analysis. 

Read more and download below!

2018 Review Report

"It's a quest... a quest for fun!"

By Brian Fox  |  Oct/Nov 2018

If you like roller coasters, and you handle them better than John Candy (the Wally World security guard), you might be enjoying this market!  The highs and lows have been staggering over the last several months and I think we’re all in the mood for some stability and a balanced market where we’re all happy and having fun. Say what you will about Clark Griswold in the infamous National Lampoon films, but he truly loved his family and just wanted to show them an epically good time and a memorable trip!  Depending on which role you fill in the supply chain, from shipper to broker to carrier, you’ve felt your share of “disasters” to your budget the last couple years. 

Here is a brief market overview and report on all the factors driving the current market, our expectations for where it’s headed, and most importantly, how to manage this market and come out on top!   

Read the full report ...

OCT/NOV Market Report

Logistics Moves Pretty Fast

By Brian Fox  |  Aug/Sep 2018

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris.  The iconic picture of these two looking at the Ferrari careening down the hill might describe the shock you are feeling as the market pivoted sharply this past month.  Of course, it depends on which side you are on as to whether you have a smile or a frown!  Just as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” enjoys a resurgence after 30 years we are reminded, once again, of how things are cyclical and we should be anything but shocked by the market’s volatility.  Studying truckstop.com’s MDI report, history shows that rates are following a trend by softening this time of year, but the drop has been bigger than expected.  It is also the same time that mother nature visited last year and gave us a big push into this current, chaotic market, so, it’s no time to take your eye off the ball and a great time to secure a good partner to make sure capacity is available for the upcoming months.

Here is a brief market overview and report on all the factors driving the current market, our expectations for where it’s headed, and most importantly, how to manage this market and come out on top!   

Making a market forecast can be as unpredictable as Ferris’ next scheme, but certain factors can help give us guidance.  After last year we all experienced the power of Mother Nature...download for the rest of the story:

AUG/SEP Market Report

Jaws 5 & the Freight Market

By Brian Fox  |  Jun/Jul 2018

As we head into the summer on a wave of record-high MDI we have the sense of uneasiness with the market and what might be lurking around the corner, or in this metaphor, below.  Much like the great original summer blockbuster Jaws, (which was released 43 years ago, sorry to make you feel old), the movie, like the current market, gives participants an “edge of your seat” scare as you don’t know what will happen next. 

Here is a brief market overview and report on all the factors driving the current market, our expectations for where it’s headed, and most importantly, how to manage this market and come out on top!   

Many variables shift and drive the market each month.  Government regulations, weather, seasonal shipping, the economy and the number of available trucks are the biggest factors that contribute to volatile rates.  Any of those factors could be “Jaws” in this scenario...download for the rest of the story:

JUN/JUL Market Report

Back to the Future & How to Beat Biff?

By Brian Fox  |  Apr/May 2018

The first quarter of 2018 was like a young George McFly sitting in the car before the dance; scary, unpredictable and a foreboding presence hovering over him.  Recently, it looks to be working out with the spot market softening and rates inching back down.  Many think this should continue short term.  

Here is a brief market overview and report on all the factors driving the current market, our expectations for where it’s headed, and most importantly, how to manage this market and come out on top!   

Whether it was 2014 or just last year, we’ve seen this type of market before.  As George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Many variables shift and drive the market...download for the rest of the story:

APR/MAY Market Report

Where are rates headed in 2018?

By Brian Fox  |  Feb/Mar 2018

The second half of 2017, and its impact on this market has been chronicled ad nauseam.  We now have many competing forces and variables at play with almost as many opinions on where the market will go from here.

Here is a brief market overview and report on all the factors driving the current market, our expectations for where it’s headed, and most importantly, how to manage this market and come out on top!   

Shippers were paying premium rates as the strong surge in business that began last year .

...download for the rest of the story:

FEB/MAR Market Report

New Year, New Market?

By Brian Fox  |  January 2018

Looks like we’re trading 2017 Hurricanes for winter cyclones and a Polar Vortex.  A historically high MDI will stay high with this weather being the driving force.  A resurgent economy, a long-awaited infrastructure proposal and new tax cuts will help ease the pain of these higher rates.

Here is a brief market overview and report on all the factors driving the current market, our expectations for where it’s headed, and most importantly, how to manage this market and come out on top! ...download for the rest of the story:

January Market Report

Is it a “Trump Bump”, ELD’s, Hurricane Hangover, all of the above?

By Brian Fox  |  December 2017

We know President Trump thinks he is driving the economy, but regardless if you agree, the economy and all the other factors swirling around our market will keep this roller coaster going for some time.  Here is a brief market overview and report on all the factors driving the current market, our expectations for where it’s headed, and most importantly, how to manage this market and come out on top! 

A stronger economy has been pushing more loads into the marketplace, and after a record-breaking...download for the rest of the story:

December Market Report

Is this the perfect storm to drive down capacity and drive up rates?

By Brian Fox  |  November 2017

No, but it’s certainly a turbulent and volatile market right now. 

Here is a brief market overview and report on all the factors driving the current market, our expectations for where it’s headed, and most importantly, how to manage this market and come out on top! 

A stronger economy has been pushing more loads into the marketplace while capacity has been shrinking with fewer drivers on the road.  As this was a slower, smaller storm front, Mother Nature intervened with much bigger...download for the rest of the story:

November Market Report