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How Will COVID-19 Affect Spot Rates?

March 18, 2020
5 min read
Less Than Truckload
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As more businesses close down completely, if temporarily, both shipment and delivery of goods are being strongly impacted by COVID-19 across the United States. In addition, New Jersey recently started what could become a nationwide trend–a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. for non-emergency, non-essential travel.

What could this all mean for drivers and their schedules, and for the companies receiving their trucks and deliveries after normal working hours? More exact daytime delivery could be required, and drivers could get held up even more than they typically do at delivery locations such as facilities offering cold storage, and food stores. And if a flood of Chinese imports arrives during widespread closure of the warehouses, stores and avenues of distribution, shipping and receiving costs could skyrocket!

Many questions are being fielded by operators of warehouses regarding the maximum number of people allowed in one place. Bans of over 50 people are becoming more frequent across the country as other states follow the lead of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Though truck freight flows aren’t yet restricted, they likely will be, and contingency plans will be necessary for shippers and their partners in logistics.

The current national state of emergency has led to a first-ever lightening of hours of service (HOS) regulations for truck drivers, allowing some to exceed 11 hours per day of driving and 14 hours per day of work. This emergency relief via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) applies as long as the drivers are transporting emergency supplies including anything related to COVID-19 and its testing and treatment, other medical supplies like gloves and masks, food to replenish stores, and materials for temporary housing and quarantine facilities.

A positive note in the overall picture is that despite the jump in demand during early March for essential consumer goods like hand sanitizer and toilet paper, and the trucks to haul them, trucking capacity has remained strong. Despite truck line-ups at plants producing such products, there are still trucking companies seeking business, and dry-van truckload spot rates are still lower than this time last year. That said, higher spot rates are to be expected–and soon–with additional volatility, as COVID-19 limitations on production, importing and exporting battle it out with consumer demand.

For more information on LTL and FTL rates for your freight, contact us today or click below to request a free 30-day trial of Amrate. Amrate will allow you to receive real-time quotes from all the major carriers.

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