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Freight Volumes Go Negative For First Time Since July As Tough Comps Reassert


Outbound tender volumes (OTVI.USA) fell by 2.21% year-over-year this week, and now sit well off the year-to-date high of 6.78% from early October. Volumes have been in a consistent downtrend for the last several weeks. Most importantly, this week's volumes negative results break a nearly three-month "winning streak" of positive volumes dating back to late July, when OTVI first crossed over to positive on July 24. 

Nationally, outbound tender volumes fell 2.21% year-over-year this week. Month-over-month volumes are tracking down 3.85%, while week-over-week volumes are down 2.21%. As we enter the heart of peak season, it seems fair to now question if we are going to actually have a peak season at all. This is a stark reversal from a month ago when things were looking up, but this can be a volatile index so all is not lost yet.

On a market-by-market basis, seven of the 15 major markets FreightWaves tracks were positive on a week-over-week basis. On the upside, Fresno led the way, up 13.1%, followed by Indianapopolis, up 6.16% and Miami, up 5.70%. On the downside, the worst markets week-over-week included Ontario, California (down 21.73%), Los Angeles (down 14.67%) and Seattle (down 6.00%).



National rejection rates fall this week

National tender rejections now sit at 5.08%. The tender rejection story has been much slower to develop, likely a reflection of stubbornly high capacity in the market. This week brought negative news on this front with rejections falling 38 basis points (bps) week-over-week. 

OTRI.USA briefly broke above the 6% level for the first time since March back on September 17, but has since taken a noticeable step back. On a week-over-week basis, OTRI.USA fell by 38 bps. Month-over-month, it is up 8 bps, while year-over-year it is down 775 bps compared to 12.83% at this time last year. On a trending basis, OTRI.USA looks okay but not great, having risen in nine out of the last 13 weeks with tender rejections rising off of the 3.75% bottom experienced in mid-August. National tender rejections are 2.36% below their 60-day moving average.

Year-over-year comparables for national rejection rates are still extraordinarily difficult due to the daunting 2018 numbers in which rejections never fell below double digits. As a result, on a year-over-year percentage basis, OTRI.USA is down 60%. As can be seen in the chart below, comparisons do not start to ease until the January and February timeframe in 2020.


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