Effects of Freight Seasonality

by Hannelore Book

Effects of Freight Seasonality:

Unless working directly within the logistics industry, many people are unaware of various freight seasons and their consequential impact on the supply chain. There are generally four crucial freight seasons recognized within a calendar year. It is best practice for shippers and organizations to keep these dates in mind; to account for and minimize supply chain disruptions while capitalizing on their business. Taking the time to learn about and understand freight seasonality will pay off!

The Four Freight Seasonalities

As mentioned, “freight seasonality” is used for a calendar year’s four truckload shipping seasons. During each of these seasons, carriers and shippers experience fluctuations in supply and demand. Luckily these seasons are very predictable, typically beginning and ending around the same time each year. In some circles, additional seasons are recognized, representing short-term spikes within the four primary seasons. The central concept is that certain products correspond to specific spike seasons within the year.

The “Quiet Season”

With the endless holiday madness coming to a close, shippers and carriers, during the “quiet season” of freight seasonality, can breathe a bit easier and ease off that gas pedal! Just a month prior, in (December), shippers and carriers throughout the supply chain were scrambling to meet and beat deadlines. In January, the “quiet season” begins and lasts until the end of March. During this season, overall freight volume decreases to its lowest point annually.

The demand from consumers and retailers feels at a standstill due to the end of the year and holiday seasons. Demand and temperatures are lower, with many highways covered in snow. These weather conditions can make shipping less than ideal, resulting in fewer orders being placed. However, this quiet season can undoubtedly be used to benefit both shippers and carriers. This slow season is an ideal time to evaluate current shipping processes and the past year’s performances.

This season can also make for great timing when it comes to implementing changes in logistics procedures. While demand during the “quiet season” drops, package returns are at an all-time high during the first few weeks of January. When could be a better time to perfect your reverse logistics procedures or a new transportation management system? Quiet season is ideal for improving crucial aspects of your supply chain. 

The “Produce Season”

After a few laidback months, April arrives like a lion, marking the first significant uptick in freight demand since the end of the previous year. It’s springtime, so everything, everywhere, all at once, is blooming! Look around, and you will see fresh produce lining the shelves, and restaurants everywhere are booming with business! Freight and shipping demand will also increase among consumers, with many people preparing for summer activities and vacations.

The accumulation of demand from consumers and businesses leads to increased demand for shipping services. As a result, qualified shippers are likely to haul more loads for an increased pay rate. Shippers dealing in other miscellaneous goods may face raised rates due to the reduced shipping capacity. During this time, carriers can be pickier even as prices are rising. Finding a carrier can be more difficult for shippers as the market becomes much tighter during the produce season. For this reason, shippers must research and understand their regions; to avoid scrambling to fulfill shipments. 

The “Peak” Freight Seasonality

Early August marks the beginning of the peak season! This peak freight season lasts until the end of October. Freight rates and volume are at their highest, with companies shipping to distributors to accommodate the back-to-school shopping and the end-of-the-year upsurge. Along with the increase in demand, there is also an increase in costs during this time. Understanding the peak, AKA the busiest season of freight seasonality, is critical to the success of your business.

The “Holiday Season”

This season marks the end of the year activity, rounding out the end of the four primary freight seasons and the inevitable boom in consumer and shipper demand. The Holiday season occurs from November to the end of December. During this time, shoppers are flocking to online and in-store retailers; meanwhile, shippers are striving to fulfill all their orders. Freight Carriers and third-party logistics partners aspire to achieve ideal operational efficiency. Meaning carriers and logistics partners are likely pulling out of all stops and wrapping up last-minute orders. The last week of the year is generally the busiest, as shippers are trying to send out all overlooked, delayed, and last-minute charges. 

Freight Seasonality Takeaway

Now that you can understand and identify the four freight seasons, those working in the supply chain must apply this during the calendar year. Planning for freight seasons will save all supply chain industries major logistical headaches and financial losses. Understanding how this freight seasonality impacts your business will allow you to make the most of each freight season.

Why Choose FreightCenter for Freight Seasonality Logistics?

At FreightCenter, we specialize in planning, logistics, and shipping. FreightCenter is a leading logistics provider specializing in helping businesses of all sizes optimize their supply chain operations. With a network of thousands of carriers and advanced technology solutions, FreightCenter can help shippers and carriers ensure their shipments arrive safely and on time. Let us solve your shipping puzzles, so you can focus on running a successful business!


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