FTR Associates’ Shippers Condition Index (SCI) fell in September by 0.9 points from the previous month to a current reading of -4.7.
The SCI sums up all market influences that affect shippers; a reading above zero suggests a favorable shipping environment, while a reading below zero is unfavorable.
As reported in the November Shippers Update, the SCI indicates that conditions have resumed deteriorating from the shipper’s perspective after a period of relatively better conditions this summer. But the decline is relatively modest so far, FTR says, and conditions still are significantly better than they were early in the year.
“With freight carriers maintaining tight discipline on capacity and pricing, even the recent very modest growth in the economy has been sufficient to drive increasing rates,” says Larry Gross, senior consultant for FTR. “Most critical for the 2012 outlook is the ultimate resolution of the pending Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ruling on changes in Hours of Service regulations for truck drivers.
“The FMCSA has once again delayed the issuance of the revisions, but the new rule is in final review and should come out shortly. If the new rules contain the revisions previously discussed, and if the courts do not issue a stay as a result of the inevitable legal challenges, then shipping conditions will dramatically worsen in 2012 as a result of extremely tight trucking capacity. Rate escalation and actual trucking capacity shortfalls could be the result.”
FTR says the November Shippers Update includes a discussion on what shippers need to consider in the current volatile economic environment.