Skip to main content

The transportation industry is marked by distinct patterns throughout the year. These patterns, known as the four transportation seasons, provide valuable insights into the ebb and flow of the industry. In this article, we’ll explain each season and why they are crucial for anyone involved in the transportation industry.

Transportation’s Dependence on Supply and Demand

To grasp the essence of these transportation seasons, it’s essential to recognize the industry’s heavy reliance on the delicate balance of supply and demand. These two factors are the driving forces behind capacity and rates, shaping the market conditions that players in the transportation arena must navigate. Even in today’s unique market landscape, influenced by events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the transportation industry continues to adhere to these seasonal patterns.

The Four Transportation Seasons (January – March)

As the new year begins, the transportation industry enters a period of relative tranquility. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has subsided, replaced by colder temperatures and snow-covered highways. Freight volume is at a low point during this season, and the industry is in recovery mode. However, March brings with it a gradual uptick in freight volume as spring draws near. While this may seem like a slow time for transportation, it is a critical period for planning and preparation, ensuring readiness for the busier months ahead.

The Produce Shipping Season (April – July)

With the arrival of spring, the transportation industry experiences a resurgence known as the harvest season. Freight volume begins to rise after a few dormant months, and carriers find themselves with more choices when selecting loads. Each state boasts its dominant crop that must be shipped across the country, creating a surge in demand. This surge leads to tighter markets, making it more challenging for shippers to secure trucks and driving up rates. In specific regions, the shift towards high-paying produce loads leaves non-produce shippers scrambling to move their freight. To navigate this season successfully, it’s crucial to research the impact of produce shipping in your areas of interest.

The Peak Shipping Season (August – October)

As the harvest season winds down, the transportation industry gears up for another busy phase—the peak season. During this time, companies are preparing for back-to-school and the impending holiday rush. Sales are typically higher, and businesses are actively shipping products to stock their facilities in anticipation of the holidays. Rates continue to climb, and freight volume reaches its zenith.

The Holiday Shipping Season (November – December)

The holiday season is characterized by a flurry of activity, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s on the horizon. Shippers rush to fulfill last-minute orders and clear their inventory before holiday closures. As the year draws to a close, no one wants to carry freight into the new year. Despite the desire for a holiday break, the days leading up to the long weekends are often the busiest, as shippers strive to dispatch remaining shipments, address delays, and rectify oversights.

The four transportation seasons paint a vivid picture of the annual cycle in the transportation industry. Whether you are a newcomer or a seasoned professional in this field, understanding these patterns is essential for effective forecasting and staying ahead of market changes.