FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) fell in January to a reading of 5.4 from the December 10.3. December’s SCI had reflected robust market conditions for shippers which softened a bit in January as looser capacity was the only factor more favorable m/m. The January SCI, exclusive of the December reading, was still the strongest since May 2020. The SCI is forecast to remain stable into 2024.

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented, “The Shippers Conditions Index is likely to hold firm unless overall economic conditions deteriorate significantly from present levels. Looser truckload capacity, slowing imports, and improving rail service should all support stable to improving shippers’ conditions through the balance of the year.”

The March issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published March 7 provides a detailed analysis of the factors affecting the January Shippers Conditions Index and provides the forecast for this index through January of 2023. The March issue also includes commentary about how the surge in small new for-hire carriers in 2020 and 2021 potentially affects the driver capacity situation in 2023.

The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are: freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance.