Welcome! Guest

Finding a Foothold on How Truckload Carriers Are Responding to Market Equilibrium

09/21/2023 19:24

The trucking industry plays a vital role in the global economy, transporting goods across cities, states, and even countries. With the ever-changing market dynamics, truckload carriers are continuously adapting to the new conditions to remain competitive.

As a result, it is essential to understand how truckload carriers are responding to market equilibrium. Market equilibrium refers to the balance between supply and demand, where the market price for a particular good or service is stable. In the trucking industry, market equilibrium can be affected by numerous factors such as supply chain disruptions, fuel price volatility, and capacity constraints.

In this blog post, we will delve into the strategies that truckload carriers are using to respond to market equilibrium. We will look at how they are managing supply and demand, pricing their services, and utilizing technology to optimize their operations.

We will also examine the impact of market equilibrium on shippers, and how they can work with truckload carriers to improve their supply chain efficiency.

Customers More Constructive on Inventory Needs Despite Competitive Markets

According to a few truckload carriers, the trough of the market cycle has most likely already passed the economies of scale. 

This is based on several labor review or monthly labor review of every contract approach.

However, as part of the level of risk, they have also noted that any significant improvement in underlying fundamentals is not expected until 2024. Fatal risks might occur for power workers, lower-wage workers, native workers, temporary workers, and even injured workers. 

This implies that this year's peak season may be subdued yet again. Nonetheless, there will be jobs for workers including non-union workers. 

During a recent investor conference held by Morgan Stanley in Dana Point, California, Schneider National's CFO, Steve Bruffett, stated that some seasonal activity may be observed in September, October, and November. He further mentioned that this could lead to a more favorable start to 2024, although it may not be considered robust. Instead, the market may become more balanced and stable compared to the last four years.

The Freight Environment

Months of a stagnant freight market, where customers were reducing their inventories, seems to be coming to an end. According to Bruffett, there is now some restocking of merchandise taking place. The back-to-school season has shown a rise in demand, and Halloween-related goods are also doing better than expected.

However, neither category is predicted to have a significant effect on the carrier's overall results. Schneider reported a decrease in their projected earnings for 2023, citing the third quarter as the low point in the cycle due to the full impact of contractual bid season across their customer base.

During the event, Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN) management expressed a comparable viewpoint. CEO and Chairman Derek Leathers stated that the market's oversupply and excessive inventories are a thing of the past.

According to Leathers, Werner's major customers, particularly discount stores that specialize in household essentials, have maintained adequate stock levels.

Leathers anticipates that restocking will take place during peak season and customers will be more cautious this year to avoid overstocking, similar to the previous year's mistake.

Additionally, Dollar General, Werner's largest customer, has recently announced plans to implement promotional markdowns to balance their inventory. This move is expected to result in a $95 million decrease in operating income for the latter half of the year. Although they remain vigilant, Leathers remains optimistic about the future.

Werner anticipates a potential peak in the market this year, although it faces a challenging comparison to last year when project freight provided a significant benefit. According to Leathers, the market is gradually achieving equilibrium after a year of truckload capacity trickling out, with the exit rate now accelerating. It is expected that the market will continue to grow from this point forward.

The change is noticeable with smaller carriers predominantly hauling spot-market freight

Over the past year, spot rates have experienced a downward trend, although they have recently rebounded from a low point in May. Industry experts agree that smaller fleets have depleted their cash reserves accumulated during the freight surge. Furthermore, the group is currently facing the highest interest rates in the last two decades and rising cost inflation, including a 20% increase in diesel prices since early July.

Bruffett, an industry analyst, has also observed a decrease in capacity. He has noticed an increase in the number of qualified drivers available and reported that Schneider's leasing business has seen an increase in equipment returns. In addition, the company's brokerage unit has experienced a decrease in the number of carriers renewing their authorities. These developments indicate a shift in the industry and could potentially have long-term implications.

According to Jim Filter, the group president of transportation and logistics at Schneider, it is currently too premature to make predictions about contract rate renewals for the following year. However, he believes that a drop in rates is unlikely. He added that he does not think there is a lower level for contract rates than the current one and that customers comprehend this.

In Conclusion

Understanding how truckload carriers respond to market equilibrium is crucial for shippers and carriers alike.

By keeping up with industry trends and adjusting strategies accordingly, both parties can find a foothold in the ever-changing logistics landscape. Whether it's through technology adoption, efficient route planning, or strategic partnerships, there are various ways to stay ahead of the curve.

In the coming years, coefficients on risk, like the risk of death or risk of injury will be a factor in every contract perspective in relation to immigrant status approval.

It's important to continue monitoring the industry and making informed decisions to stay competitive and thrive in today's market.


If you want to stay updated with a wide range of trends, actionable insights, and innovative solutions in the trucking, freight, and logistics industry, stay connected to us.

Moreover, are you looking for a company to help you to stay DOT and FMCSA compliant? We at Labworks USA can support you.

Back to Blogs