At Transfix, data guides everything we do. It’s the core component powering our TrueRate pricing algorithm, and it enables us to deliver deep, actionable insights to shippers that can save them time and money at scale. 

This same data, which stems from hundreds of thousands of shipments each week, also provides us with a window into macro shipping trends across key regions in the U.S. None of these have been more interesting of late than Southern California, and more granularly, the Port of Los Angeles, due to its position on the front lines of the trade war with China. 

With that in mind, our data scientists dug into the trends, and 2019 is indeed shaping up to be much different than years past. 

Rates Per Mile are Flatter Than Usual 

Overall, we’re seeing a lower than typical “peak” season for the Los Angeles region based on average rates per mile. Historically, we see a large uptick in November due to the holidays and freight arriving at its regional ports. Looking at carrier rates from 2016-2018 across all shipments originating from this region, we found a month-over-month change that starts in October and peaks in November:

  • September: -6.0%

  • October: 2.6%

  • November: 13.1%

For 2019, we observe a very different pattern. Although rates in November have picked up slightly, the increase is much more dampened compared to previous years:

  • September: -4.0%

  • October: -4.2%

  • November: 4.2%

Major Dip in Driver Dwell Time

Another metric we use to understand supply chain flow is dwell time, or the amount of time a driver spends in one place, based on Transfix app data. Looking at dwell times for drivers picking up shipments in the LA region, November typically sees an increase due to the uptick in volume for peak season. 

This year we have observed a massive drop in dwell time, likely because there hasn’t been the same volume influx: 

While we initially looked at this data to understand tariff impact, it’s difficult to singularly pin that as the cause of these changes. There are a number of factors, ranging from the widening of the Panama Canal, to e-commerce growth, that are contributing to our changing ecosystem. Our role is not just as the freight marketplace, but as the trusted data partner that can help shippers to better understand these fluxuations, while also locking in fair rates farther in advance, to create a more predictable and sustainable shipping ecosystem. To learn more about how we do it, drop us a line at today. 

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