While shoppers can expect to save this time of year, the opposite is true for those purchasing LTL services. As sales volumes increase so does the demand for LTL shipping, which leads to capacity crunches, and ultimately, higher-than-normal freight rates. This year, those pricing surges are expected to be even worse with fewer drivers on the road and retail sales projected to exceed years past – and that’s just the beginning – other factors will contribute to higher LTL prices this year, including:
Bad weather – we’ve already seen major hurricanes and fires devastate large parts of the country, and unfortunately, forecasters are expecting more problematic weather conditions for certain parts of the country as we progress further into winter. Wind, snow, ice, and low temperatures are never great for the transport game, and with all of them on the horizon, rates are sure to reflect the increased peril of transporting goods.
Standard Rate Increases – freight rates have inflated during the past year thanks to a steady growth in consumer spending coupled with a modest revival in domestic manufacturing, deteriorating infrastructure, and of course, the driver shortage. The trend is expected to continue during the holidays, and into the next year.
Increased Returns Traffic – the ecommerce sector continues to boom, and as a result, so do returns. With at least 30 percent of online sales ultimately making a return journey, there will be a lot of extra parcel and LTL traffic on the roads. That extra demand for transport services, will mean a little something extra added to your rates.
So How Can Shippers Save on LTL Services During the Holidays?
While you can’t avoid rate hikes completely, there are a few things you can do to lower your LTL spend, including:
Offering longer delivery windows – try shipping during lower-volume days, like Saturdays and Sundays, when carriers are trying to fill out their containers by offering lower, more enticing rates.
Spreading shipments out – this point is an extension of the last. Instead of sending out large full-truckload orders all the time, try spacing your shipments out into smaller loads to take advantage of lower, more flexible LTL rates.
Planning ahead – schedule pickups as far in advance as possible. This can help you obtain better rates while also providing your operation with more built-in lead time to get orders filled and shipped.
Improve Shipment Density – density is playing a larger role in pricing than it ever has before. As a result, you should be doing everything you can to improve the density of your shipments. Ship your freight in appropriately sized boxes or crates, and on appropriately sized pallets. Eliminate dead space and excess packaging materials where you can, and if you don’t want anything stacked on top of your shipment, use a “do not stack” sticker in place of a cone. Your goal is to shrink the footprint of your freight as much as possible while still maintaining the safety and security of the shipment.
Shop Around – don’t go with the first quote if you can help it. We suggest obtaining quotes from at least a few carriers and comparing rates. Capacities can vary greatly between carriers at any given time, which means rates will too.
Good Luck this Holiday Season
Rates are expected to raise through 2018 and into 2019, but armed with these tips, you’ll be prepared to roll with the punches and look forward to savings that you may have otherwise missed.