Less-Than-Truckload: “Upbeat” outlook for 2017

While LTL executives are bullish on the new administration’s “America First” emphasis, shippers should expect rate increases in the 3% range amid a “rational” pricing landscape.

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As we roll into 2017, it’s clear that the $36 billion less-than-truckload (LTL) sector is enjoying a financial renaissance as carriers continue their new-found pricing discipline and resist the urge to expand capacity beyond fulfilling immediate shipper needs.

“Overall, the first quarter of 2017 is looking upbeat from an economic standpoint,” says Wayne Spain, president and COO of Averitt Express, the nation’s 12th-largest LTL carrier. “We’re seeing many positive indicators, including comfortable growth in the months leading up to 2017 and the reaction of markets to the new presidential administration.”

Others close to the market can do nothing but agree with Spain’s positive sentiments. According to Satish Jindel, principal of SJ Consulting, an analyst firm that tracks the LTL sector, the new President’s “America First” promise could pay dividends in the LTL sector—eventually. “It won’t show up immediately, but the new administration’s focus on keeping more business in the United States should translate into more freight,” he projects. “There could be a time lag, but that should be a positive.”

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