FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) in March dipped to a reading of 4.5 from the previous 5.1 reflecting slightly less favorable overall conditions. For only the third time since May 2020, all four freight factors for the SCI – freight demand, capacity utilization, rates, and fuel costs were positive contributors to the index. More favorable rates and lower fuel costs were partially offset by tighter capacity and stronger volume. The outlook for shippers is stable through most of 2023.

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented, “Despite the small decline, the overall story of positive shipper conditions and a stable outlook remains in place this month and are expected to hold firm for the balance of 2023. All four components of the index were positive for the first time since 2020 this month, signaling the lack of pressure in the system at the present time.”

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR

The May issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published May 5 provides a detailed analysis of the factors affecting the March Shippers Conditions Index and provides the forecast for this index through March of 2024. The May edition also includes commentary addressing how the Federal Reserve’s recent annual revision of industrial production data affected FTR’s historical truck loadings estimates for specific equipment types.

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.