What you need to know about FTL freight shipping seasons

FTL Freight
What you need to know about FTL freight shipping seasons

When businesses decide between lower costs and faster delivery times, many opt for FTL freight to help ensure timely delivery and exclusive use of a truck for their shipments.

When businesses need to get goods from A to B with a tight deadline or have enough product to fill a full truck, they usually opt for full truckload (FTL) shipping. FTL refers to shipments that use an entire truck exclusively, unlike Less than truckload (LTL) shipping, which will share the truck with shipments from other businesses. 

It may surprise you to learn that different times of the year can affect the demand for FTL shipping. This means that availability and pricing can fluctuate throughout the year, which is something to keep an eye on to avoid surprise costs.

The different freight seasons that can affect FTL shipping

Let’s take a closer look at how freight seasonality can affect FTL shipping.

The quiet season

The quiet season runs from January to March, reflecting reduced demand in retail and online stores following the holiday season. Customers spend the early part of the year needing to buy much less after buying gifts and enjoying the sales. This means there is less reason to send out shipments as many businesses switch to a just-in-time inventory management model. More businesses will turn to LTL shipments, meaning that FTL services are more available.

This drop in activity allows shippers and carriers to reevaluate their processes to ensure they’re running as efficiently as possible. It’s also a chance to review new trends and new opportunities that can expand your business.

Weather also plays a factor in the quiet season, especially in areas susceptible to snow and ice, which can make shipping difficult. 

The produce season

Shipping starts to pick up again in April when fresh produce becomes more readily available. Retail also starts to pick up again as customers prepare for the summer. The US also has public holidays during this time that boost sales, especially in supermarkets.

The market becomes busier during the produce season, meaning shipping costs rise as availability decreases. This can make securing an FTL shipment difficult for those not used to freight seasonality.

The peak season

While some may think the peak season coincides with the holiday season, shipping and retail run on slightly different schedules. The peak season for shipping companies runs between August and the end of October, covering summer and most of the fall.

The peak season is fuelled in part by the back-to-school rush and holiday preparations. Customers tend to have a little more financial freedom around this time, too, helping to drive up retail spending. 

The increase in sales at brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping means that businesses require more shipments, further reducing the availability of FTL shipments. During this time, FTL shipments will be at their highest costs. Companies will need to prepare carefully and ensure they are making the most of their shipments. 

Peak season is also when carriers will feel the results of any changes made earlier in the year, as new processes will be fully stress-tested. Carriers can use previous years’ data to help guide their new processes to ensure a strong chance of success when implementing the new changes. 

The holiday season

The holiday season runs throughout November and December, and we see a huge rise in sales from customers buying gifts, especially in the US, where Thanksgiving and Christmas fall during this time. 

Shopping in brick-and-mortar stores and online is at its highest level. However, many retailers will have adopted just-in-case inventory management practices in the run-up to the holiday season. This means that carriers are delivering last-minute, urgent shipments. This will increase the need for FTL shipping, as LTL shipments may not meet demand quickly enough. 

Stay on top of freight seasonality with DTS

Navigating freight seasons when looking for full truckload shipping can be tricky, especially if you’re not sure what you’re in for. Arranging FTL shipping will be more difficult due to changes in demand as the shipping seasons change. 

Understanding what the freight seasons are and what they mean for your shipments is important to ensure you can get your goods where they need to be for the right price. 

But sometimes, finding the time to research freight seasonality can be hard, and orders requiring full truckload shipping may be last minute. DTS can help. 

Our team is on hand to help you manage your freight options during any season to meet any demand. We will work with you to help ensure you pay the best possible price to get your shipment to its destination. Contact us today to find out how.

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