Today’s Lanes to Watch: Friday, September 3, 2021

Takeaways for today's lanes:

Carriers average $3.26 all-in rpm on round-trip loads between Chicago and Baltimore.

Houston becomes a deeper backhaul market due to a recent surge in inbound demand.

Harrisburg to Dallas rejections are likely to rise as outbound volumes are positioned to reach a new high for 2021.

Seattle to Chicago – The Seattle freight market shows signs of tightening following a surge in import shipments


The Seattle market has shown signs of tightening as of late. Seattle’s outbound tender rejection rate increased from 10% in the third week of August to 15.3% currently. The tender rejection rate for outbound Seattle loads with lengths of haul longer than 800 miles is now over 25%. In the past week, the domestic intermodal spot rate to move 53’ containers doorto-door increased from $1.70/mile, including fuel surcharges, to $1.77/mile, also including fuel. Typically a backhaul market, the Seattle Headhaul Index is now approximately zero, which indicates that inbound Seattle and outbound Seattle demand is now balanced.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Raise your rates in the lane for the increasingly tight market conditions in Seattle. When negotiating with carriers, cite Chicago’s Headhaul Index of 41, which suggests that it will be easy for carriers to get reloaded.

Carriers: Chicago’s outbound tender rejection rate is 270 basis points (bps) below the national tender rejection rate, indicating that the market is not quite as tight as most currently. But, it still may be an attractive destination given the Chicago Headhaul Index of 41, which indicates that outbound loads should be plentiful.

Shippers: It will be more difficult to source outbound Seattle capacity than it was a week or two ago due to a surge in outbound Seattle demand, likely related to a surge in import volume at the port. Domestic intermodal volume just reached a level that equaled its high for the year. That may mean that there is little capacity beyond that level. In light of the current intermodal service issues, shippers may want to utilize truckload for time-sensitive shipments.

Charlotte to Chicago – Capacity will tighten further in the lead-up to Labor Day weekend.



Charlotte outbound tender volumes are up 13% w/w, which is a major increase in demand for outbound capacity.

The Headhaul Index in Charlotte is up 33% w/w, signaling that capacity is likely to tighten from a growing imbalance between outbound and inbound volumes.

Charlotte outbound tender rejections are up 149 bps w/w, and with inbound tender rejections increasing as well, this is putting upward pressure on rates.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: The 33% increase w/w in the Headhaul Index is being driven primarily by a large increase in outbound volumes w/w. Outbound tender rejections are already up 149 bps w/w, so, if this trend continues, you can expect capacity to get even tighter, which will put even more upward pressure on rates.

Carriers: Stay firm on your rates as the large surge of over 33% in the Headhaul Index is likely to shift pricing power further into your favor. It appears as if outbound volumes are positioned to climb further, so if you find any opportunities in that market, they are likely going to be paying a premium to secure capacity during the lead-up to the holiday weekend.

Shippers: Your shipper cohorts in Charlotte are averaging 2.7 days in tender lead times. If the Headhaul Index and Outbound Tender Rejection Index continue to increase, you will likely need to increase your tender lead times to between 3.5 and 4 days to ensure that you are able to cover your freight during this holiday week. Expect to pay a premium for any last-minute or ad hoc shipments.

St. Louis to Columbus – Capacity is tighter for moves heading east.


St. Louis’ outbound rejection rate has fallen significantly over the past week and a half, but the lane-specific rejection rate to Columbus has held at nearly 30% – well above the market average.

Columbus’ outbound rejection rate has leveled off around 23% after bottoming around 18% to start the month of August.

Columbus’ outbound demand has been growing since early May with the OTVI for the market hitting an all-time high earlier this week

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Expect rates to remain elevated into Columbus with the imbalance of freight flow growing heading into the Northeast. Rates should remain steady with the obvious spikes for any last minute loads needing to move before the holiday. Sell Columbus as a growing market with plenty of demand. It just might not be going in the right direction.

Carriers: Expect plenty of opportunity for freight out of Columbus with spot rates feeling upward pressure. Rates moving into the Northeast are as high as they have ever been, but getting loads heading west will remain a challenge.

Shippers: Expect spot rates to hold steady in this lane and capacity to remain challenged heading in this direction throughout the month of September. Growing demand for freight moving east will keep capacity tighter and more expensive heading into the Northeast.

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