What are the 4 Transportation Seasons?


The transportation process never ends, so it’s important to know what each of the four transportation seasons entails. Read here to see what to expect for the whole year!

Every year, freight shipping is different. However, in a lousy year or a good year – there is always a particular pattern. According to this pattern, we forecast and plan for the whole year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, trucking and transportation still followed the shipping pattern. That’s why each year, freight shipping gets divided into the four seasons of transportation.

What are the transportation seasons?

It’s not a revelation that the transportation industry is heavily dependent on supply and demand. These two factors determine the capacity and the rates, or in brief – market conditions. Companies are now operating in a tight market for various industry reasons.

Regardless, shippers are still likely to see the typical seasonal shifts in supply and demand. Each season is something you acknowledge and understand after your first year in the transportation industry. The freight volume is not stable during the year, and if a specific rate worked in February for a dry van – it most likely will not in May. Also, the intensity of seasonal shifts depends on how you look at the general market situation and the region.

Defining the four transportation seasons

The Quiet Season (January – March)

During this time, freight volume is down. The holiday season is over, and we are entering a new year. The weather is not shipping-friendly, with low temperatures and snowed-in highways. The transportation industry is recovering from the hectic holiday shipping and slowly getting back on its feet. The freight volume gradually picks up during the quiet season, usually increasing in March as we get closer to spring. Even though this is a slow time of year, it’s essential to act and start preparing for the busier months while you can. Planning allows you to prepare for anything that comes your way.

The Produce Shipping Season (April – July)

Spring rolls around, and the produce season is upon us. Freight volume is picking up after a few almost dormant months. Carriers have more loads to choose from and can allow themselves to be pickier. Each state has its predominant crop that must get shipped out around the country. Therefore, the market tightens, shippers realize that finding a truck has become more challenging, and the rates are rising. In certain regions, the capacity and rates change drastically for non-produce shippers, as carriers are massively switching to high-paying produce loads, for example, peaches in Florida, leaving other shippers desperate to move their freight. During this time, it’s crucial to research your regions of interest to understand how much you may be affected by produce.

The Peak Shipping Season (August – October)

This season is yet another busy season in the transportation industry. The overwhelming produce season is coming to an end, but the party goes on. Now it’s time to prepare for the “back to school” and start planning the upcoming holiday season. Sales are typically higher, and companies actively ship products throughout their facilities to ensure they are all set for the holidays. The rates are still rising, and the freight volume is at its peak.

The Holiday Shipping Season (November – December)

Holidays are upon us – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Shippers rush to complete their last orders and get everything in or out before holiday closures. The year is also ending, and no one wants to leave freight behind and drag it into the new year. Of course, it’s time for vacation and being with family. Still, a few days before everyone leaves for long weekends are usually busier than ever as shippers try to ship out everything that popped up last minute, got delayed, or got overlooked.

This is a classic picture of a calendar year in the transportation industry or the four seasons of freight transportation if you wish. Awareness of this pattern is a must for any transportation professional and helps forecast and stay on top of the market changes. Knowing transportation trends is crucial, whether it’s your first year in the transportation industry or your 10th.

Freight insurance is essential

No matter what shipping season you’re in, it would be best to have freight insurance for all your shipments. The last thing you want is to have something go wrong with your freight, especially during the peak shipping season. Protecting your items before things get too hectic in the shipping industry is much better.

Transportation seasons with PLS Logistics Services

PLS Logistics Services has experience in each shipping season. We want to help you through each season and ensure you get the most out of each month. If you wish each year to be smooth and efficient, get a quote with PLS Logistics Services today, and we’d be more than happy to assist you!

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