FreightPlus’ Monthly Market Update, created by FreightPlus subject matter experts, provides detailed and actionable insights into the ever-changing transportation industry.

A core FreightPlus principle is providing our partners with data and insights to enable better, strategic business decisions.

October Market Report


In October 2023, the market exhibited several intriguing trends, although the overall landscape remained relatively stable compared to the preceding month. A notable development was the 1.0% month-over-month (MoM) decline in volume, signaling that numerous retailers continued to grapple with surplus inventory as they entered the holiday season. This decrease suggests a cautious approach to restocking among retailers, potentially driven by economic uncertainties or strategic inventory management decisions.

Additionally, the data revealed a decline of 18 basis points (BPS) in tender rejections, indicating the presence of available capacity across the United States. This trend was further corroborated by the decline in the Load-to-Truck ratio, dropping from 2.78 in September to 2.11 in October. These metrics collectively emphasize the prevailing market conditions characterized by ample carrier availability, reflecting a balanced supply-demand equation during this period.

Furthermore, spot rates experienced a marginal decline of 1.0% MoM, suggesting a modest softening in the immediate pricing environment. In contrast, contract rates remained unchanged on a MoM basis, underscoring the stability of long-term pricing agreements in the face of minor fluctuations in spot rates. This interplay between spot and contract rates highlights the nuanced dynamics of the market, where short-term pricing may exhibit subtle shifts while long-term agreements provide a consistent anchor, contributing to the overall stability observed in the market throughout October.


In the month of October, diesel prices stayed relatively flat, with the EIA benchmark starting at $4.498 per gallon on October 9th and ending the month at $4.458 by October 30th. The EIA benchmark and the price at the pump never saw the short-lived surge we witnessed in futures markets, as a result of the Israeli-Hamas conflict. The conflict-driven increase in futures markets has now mostly wound down, leaving the price at the pump unaffected. The initial spike in the beginning of October has been stabilized, due to little to no conflict-induced disruptions in oil supply and transportation.


October marked a period of stabilization and recovery within the LTL sector. Following previous tumultuous times, this month ushered in a welcome phase of calm. Market dynamics were notably marked by stabilization in operational flux and pricing structures.

Key Highlights:

  • Market Stability: The LTL market this month notably embraced a calmer disposition. The frantic pace and upheaval of previous months have subsided, offering a more predictable and steadier environment.
  • Pricing Trends: A stabilizing trend in pricing across the LTL sector has been observed. The fluctuations characterizing the past few months are smoothing out, indicating a more predictable and manageable landscape for budgeting and financial planning.
  • Estes Express’ Remarkable Recovery: In a significant turn of events, Estes Express impressively bounced back from a significant cyber attack. Their rapid recovery is a testament to resilience and preparedness. Operations have returned to normal, and the company has regained most of the temporarily lost freight, minimizing long-term impacts on their business and customer relations.

As previously reported, the closure of Yellow Freight initially disrupted the market, leading to business redistribution and carrier strategy adjustments. However, these challenges have been largely addressed, and the market has effectively adapted to the new landscape.

As the fourth quarter progresses, the LTL market shows signs of robust health. Global tensions and external factors, especially ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, continue to cast a shadow. Yet, the industry appears better equipped to handle such challenges, partly due to recent experiences and adaptive strategies. We’re all growing stronger!

The stabilization of the LTL PPI index this month aligns positively with the overall market trend. The delta from September to October on the PPI index was just over 2 points – a nominal increase.

FreightPlus: Your LTL Partner

At FreightPlus, our commitment remains to keep you informed and prepared for the evolving LTL landscape. We focus not only on monitoring market trends but also on providing solutions to simplify and enhance your LTL experience. We’re here to support you through market fluctuations and ensure your LTL needs are met with expertise and efficiency. In December, we’re launching a new service product within our LTL called FreightPlus Active AuditPlus. It will drastically reduce invoice discrepancies and the headaches caused by inaccurate information. Contact us for more information.


Total revenue in the domestic intermodal industry ranged between $6.1 billion and $6.2 billion, showing a 16% decrease from the previous year.

The revenue per load, including fuel costs, dropped from $3,664.51 to $3,016.47 compared to the previous year, indicating a decline in average revenue per shipment.

Major Intermodal Marketing Companies (IMCs) experienced a box turn rate of 1.41, which is 2.7% lower than the previous year. Box turn measures the number of revenue-generating moves a typical container makes per month.

The overall box turn rate for the entire domestic container industry was estimated at 1.52, showing a 7.5% decrease year-over-year.

If we consider that 12.5% of containers are not actively in use, the adjusted box turn rate would be 1.69, reflecting a 3.2% increase compared to the previous year. This adjustment takes into account the potential underutilization of containers, providing a more positive perspective on industry efficiency. These statistics reflect the challenges and changes within the domestic intermodal industry, such as reduced revenue, declining box turn rates, and the possible presence of unused containers. These trends can be influenced by a range of economic, logistical, and market factors.

Railway Updates:

  • BNSF Railway (BNSF): Lathrop and Oakland origin lanes were delayed due to low volume.
  • Union Pacific (UP): Network remains fluid.
  • Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS): Network remains fluid.
  • Canadian National Railway (CN): Network remains fluid.
  • Canadian Pacific (CP): Network remains fluid.
  • Norfolk Southern Rail (NS): Network remains fluid.
  • CSX Rail (CSX): Idle containers at inland rail ramp averaging 3 days.


In the Panama Canal, we observed the amplification of the ongoing drought’s impact. With this October being the driest ever recorded in the Canal, capacity and transit have been extremely limited. Each canal crossing consumes a large amount of water, and if it doesn’t rain enough, the canal is forced to limit crossings. The Panama Canal Authority has put the following daily restrictions on crossings – 25 crossings per day starting November 3rd, 24 crossings starting November 8th, 22 crossings starting December 1st, 20 crossings starting January 1st, and 18 crossings per day starting February 1st. The effects on container shipping may be costly and operationally intensive.

News emerged at the end of October regarding Maersk, the second-largest ocean carrier, which has cut 6,500 jobs YTD and recently announced plans to cut an additional 3,500 jobs throughout the remainder of 2023 and early 2024. The large cut in the workforce is due to the worsening market conditions and uncertainty in the container market. The total reduction amounts to 10,000 jobs, which is about 9% of Maersk’s global workforce. In addition to layoffs, Maersk is seeking cost savings by lowering compensations in 2024 by the amount of $600m, as well as possibly halting share buybacks next year.

Rates remained relatively flat throughout October, but GRIs have been announced by major carriers, causing transpacific and transatlantic rates to spike in November. As of November 9th, there has been an 8.6% increase in transpacific rates since the end of October. We also observed a 5.6% increase in transatlantic rates in that same time frame.


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Building a Fortune 500 Logistics Program as a Middle Market Company

Join FreightPlus CEO, Stephen Aborn, along with our client and carrier partners Colin Christ from Cenveo and Mark Watson from Estes, to discuss Building a Fortune 500 Logistics Program as a Middle Market Company. Watch Webinar

What You’ll Learn

  • Understand what an effective transportation program looks like and its components: People, technology, data & processes
  • Benefits of an effective logistics program for all parties: The shipper, shipper’s customer, and carrier
  • Learn about the Managed Transportation Solution: What it is and why it works


Curtis Garrett
Senior Vice President, LTL 

Dan Burke
Senior Manager, Strategic Capacity & Pricing

Connor Kerwin
Capacity Manager

Jeremy Eliades
Capacity Manager

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