ECONOMIC WATCH: Canadian spot market likely bottomed in April

TORONTO, Ont. - Canada's spot market load volumes took a dive in April, with overall load volumes on Loadlink down 56% from March and 38% year-over-year. But TransCore Link Logistics thinks the worst may already be over. April volumes saw declines from all regions in Canada, while truck availability increased 15% from March as carriers turned to the spot market to replace disappearing contract freight.

Of the top 100 busiest city-to-city lanes on Loadlink, only 25% saw volumes increase, with the biggest gainers being California and Florida outbound loads as produce season increased volumes in some lanes. The good news is, Loadlink saw consistent increase in volumes for the first week of May, especially intra-Canadian city lanes. Calgary-Saskatoon volumes went up 82% week-over-week, Winnipeg-Calgary soared 65%, Toronto-Calgary was up 50%, and Toronto-Montreal up 32%.

(Chart: TransCore Link Logistics)

"In the near future, the reopening of some automotive manufacturers will likely provide a boost in volumes for many carriers that operate within the automotive space," TransCore Link Logistics said in a release. "As the United States and Canadian governments continue developing a plan to reopen the economy, the short-term outlook for the Canadian trucking industry can only improve with manufacturing resuming."

The company believes April's load volumes represent the "absolute bottom levels of freight during this period of decline," and that May volumes will be level with a higher ceiling.

April capacity expanded for the first time in six months, with 5.64 trucks per load - a 159% increase from 2.18 in March.

Compared to last April, the truck-to-load ratio was 49% higher.

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