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SONAR Sightings: New York/New Jersey import volumes rise; Detroit volumes reach ceiling

The highlights from Thursday’s SONAR reports are below. For more information on SONAR — the fastest freight-forecasting platform in the industry — or to request a demo, click here. Also, be sure to check out the latest SONAR update, TRAC — the freshest spot rate data in the industry.

Market Watch for Oct. 20:

Elizabeth, New Jersey

The Port of New York and New Jersey saw an increase in imported container volumes this week after a 27% decline Oct 13.

U.S. customs maritime import shipments to the largest Northeastern port jumped 50% on Monday.

Truckload volumes in Elizabeth, New Jersey, are up as a result of the boost in imports. The Outbound Tender Volume Index in Elizabeth is up 6 points, or 2%, since Monday to 279.84 — still its lowest value since April.

Capacity is tightening in response to the increase in volume brought in by the port. The Outbound Tender Reject Index for Elizabeth edged upward 76 basis points to 5.4% since the start of the week.

Booking volumes — which provide insight to the amount of imports to expect — to the Port of New York and New Jersey have been trending downward since June and are down 26.8% since Oct. 1 and 47% lower than they were this time last year. This is a lead indication that imports are in fact trending down into the holidays and that it will likely be a long, light peak season.



Outbound demand from Detroit is still at record highs but may have finally found a ceiling.

The Outbound Tender Volume Index for Detroit remains at its highest value since 2018, but the last three months have seen little to no change. The index is only up 5 points, or 2%, since the start of August — a 2.8% increase on a two-week basis — and outbound tender volumes are only up 1.7% in the last week.

As a strong backhaul market, inbound freight volumes are at their highest level since 2018 as well — and trending up this week. Inbound capacity grew by 2.3% since Monday, and the Inbound Tender Volume Index for Detroit is up almost 11 points, or 3.7%, since the start of August.

Rejection rates are reacting dramatically to the lack of any real change in outbound volume levels. The Outbound Tender Reject Index in the Motor City is down 262 bps since Oct. 13 to 1% — its lowest value on record since 2018. Inbound capacity exceeds outbound demand by 10%, which is causing carriers in Detroit to effectively auto accept any contracted freight in order to secure loads on the way out.



Volumes out of Chicago are trending upward after a 16% decline that began on Sept. 27.

The Outbound Tender Volume Index for Chicago took an upswing last week and has risen 17.5 points, or 8.6%, since Oct. 12. The rise in volume increased Chicago’s outbound tender market share to 1.9%.

Rejection rates are beginning to rise as volumes increase this week. The Outbound Tender Reject Index gained 26 bps since Monday to 4.3% as some carriers in the market search the spot market for better rates.

Chicago’s neighboring market, Joliet, Illinois, is seeing little to no gains in outbound volume so far this month. The Outbound Tender Volume Index for Joliet is up 1.5 points, or .5%, since Oct. 2, and only experiencing a 1.2% increase on a two-week basis. Joliet does, however, still own more market share by outbound volume than Chicago with 2.4%.

Even the minor gain in outbound volume caused rejections to edge upward in Joliet. The Outbound Tender Reject Index saw a 26 bps rise Wednesday to 4.4%.


NTI as a point of reference

The National Truckload Index is a daily look at how spot rates in specific lanes hold up in comparison to the national average, giving carriers and brokers an idea of which lanes to gravitate toward or avoid.

NTI Daily

Lane to watch: Chicago to Columbus, Ohio

Spot market rates from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio, are up 5 cents since the start of the month to $3.59 a mile — 96 cents above the national average.

Outbound volumes in Columbus are up 2.7% this week, and rejection rates rose to 4.3% Wednesday, giving a good chance to carriers for booking a load afterward.

A return rate does see a price drop to $3.08 a mile and is given a confidence score of 1, providing a good amount of volatility in the rates being offered.

Market Dashboard

Watch: Carrier update

Corey Smith

Corey is a staff writer for FreightWaves with experience in air, intermodal and parcel operations, as well as LTL and full truckload transportation management. He is a graduate of the University of Memphis, majoring in supply chain management, and enjoys basketball, cinema and traveling.