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Peak shipping periods in the logistics industry

Those who have experience in the transportation and logistics  industry know that while every year is different from the one before, one thing they can always count on throughout the year are the peak shipping seasons of freight. Supply and demand in the market certainly has an effect on rates, as does the region you are located in, but even so, there is still a level of predictability in the calendar that can be advantageous to you when sketching out your annual calendar. Let's dive right in!

January - March: Quiet Season

It's the beginning of the year, and the holidays are over. During this time, shipping volume is at its lowest point in the year and carriers are gradually getting back on the road, looking for work. Carriers are not too busy, and truckload rates are more favorable  to shippers due to the relaxed state of the market. As the winter weather thaws to spring, business ramps up again and a new season takes over. 

There is an exception for those with manufacturing partners , as Chinese New Year is also celebrated during this season. So U.S. companies that export/import products from China should plan for a holiday surge and delays in manufacturing. "This is easily the biggest holiday in the logistics calendar and prior to New Year, we see the number of containers raise 50% as people prepare their cargo." (Twill) Definitely an event to pay attention to! Nearly as large an event, Carnival is celebrated in Brazil within a few weeks of Chinese New Year, so you should plan ahead to secure capacity and stock up on what you will need. 

April - July: Produce Season

As carriers and shippers get into their groove, work flow steadily increases, and soon availability starts to tighten again. The produce season is here and with the increase in demand for transportation, truckers have the ability to be more selective with which jobs they take on, driving up freight rates. After the last couple months of slow work, carriers are incentivized to make up for the lack of volume and finding a truck becomes difficult for shippers again. Domestic shippers will have their hands full around this time of year, identifying  freight  brokers to help alleviate their capacity struggles. 

August - October: Peak Season

With the sun at its highest, and the market in full swing, the summer heat ushers in an increased number of orders, shipping volume, and rates. Although the bustle of produce season has come to an end, the advent of summer marks a rocket increase in retail sales as consumers begin shopping for their upcoming holidays and back-to-school necessities. Businesses are readying themselves for the winter shopping craze, and this peak demand drops carrier availability. There are many shipments that need transportation, but not enough available carriers! Expect rates to go up during this time. 

November - December: Holiday Season

In November, there is still time for shippers and carriers to finish their last-minute loads, wanting to make as much profit as they can before the year ends and the industry slows down again. By the time Thanksgiving and Black Friday roll around, the majority of the shipping rush loses its momentum, and those working in supply chain management are happily looking forward to their vacation days. Freight volume drops, not accounting for the holiday explosions surrounding Christmas and the New Year. But then the year truly begins to wane, and we find ourselves ready for another cycle. Just like that, we slip once more into the Quiet Season. 

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