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SONAR Sightings: Volumes in Indianapolis, Chicago down leading into peak season

The highlights from Wednesday’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 Sept. 21


This is usually the time of year that shippers begin to ramp up in expectation of the holiday season. However, volumes are trending in the opposite direction this year.

Outbound tender volumes in Indianapolis are down 5.1% since Friday to their lowest levels of the year, excluding the major holiday drops. Inbound tender volumes are trending down as well, albeit not at the rate of outbound volumes. But the discrepancy between the two is only 1.6% — a very slim margin for this traditional Midwestern headhaul market. 

Carriers are willing to fall back into contractual agreements as evidenced by rejection rates decreasing by 25 basis points (bps) this week to 6%.

SONAR Tickers: OTVI.IND with 2-year seasonality


Rejection rates in the Windy City took a nosedive in the past two days.

Outbound volumes in Chicago have been trickling down since recovering from the Labor Day holiday but this week are taking a steeper downward trend. The Outbound Tender Volume Index for Chicago is down 18 points this week, or 7.3%, and 48 points less than at this time in the previous two years.

Capacity has loosened significantly during the decrease in volume.

The Outbound Tender Reject Index for Chicago is down almost 100 bps this week to 4.6% — the lowest value since 2020. This extreme decline is a sign that carriers in Chicago are accepting their contracted freight as opposed to testing their luck by searching for opportunities in the spot market.

SONAR Tickers: OTVI.CHI with 2-year seasonality

Memphis, Tennessee

Tender rejections continue to rise as volume drops further.

Outbound tender volumes in Memphis are down 5% since Friday to their lowest levels since April and still pointed in a steep downward trajectory. Meanwhile, inbound volumes remain stagnant and 55% less than outbound.

Carriers in Memphis are reacting to the decrease in volumes. The Outbound Tender Reject Index is up more than 50 bps overnight to 4.5%. This rise in rejections is an indication that capacity is misplaced, and shippers are going to have to pay more to have loads covered.

SONAR Tickers: OTVI.MEM, OTRI.MEM with “Dual” display

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 Dallas

Spot market rates from Chicago to Dallas are down 2 cents this week to $2.50 a mile — 16 cents below the national average. 

However, the rate for a return trip to Chicago falls drastically to $1.99 a mile. The significant drop in the return rate may make carriers think twice about booking, but as rejections rise out of Dallas they can use this to their advantage to put upward pressure on spot rates.

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.