ATA reports truck tonnage gains for March, but notes April is expected to be lower

By LM Staff · April 21, 2020

March truck tonnage volumes saw gains, according to data issued today by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

The ATA’s advanced seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index for March—at 120.4 (2015=100)—saw a 1.2% increase, following a 1.8% February gain over January, which came in at 119.

ATA officials said that the March 2020 SA index reading saw a 4.3% annual gain, which topped February’s 2.6% annual increase. And, for the first quarter, total SA tonnage was up 1.5% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 and was up 1.4% compared to the first quarter of 2019.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment and the metric ATA says fleets should benchmark their levels with, was 120.9 in March, topping February’s 108.2 reading by 11.2%.

“March was the storm before the calm, especially for carriers hauling consumer staples, which experienced strong freight levels,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. “But there was a huge divergence among freight types. While freight to grocery stores and big box retailers was strong in March, especially late March, due to surge buying by households, freight was anemic in other supply chains, like that for gasoline, restaurants, and auto factories. Because of this, and the continued shuttering of many parts of the economy, I would expect April tonnage to be very soft.”

April 21, 2020