What Are Seasonal Fluctuations In Auto Transport?
Just exactly what is meant by the phrase “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport”? Everybody talks about it but hardly anybody explains it. The auto shipping business just assumes that the phrase is self explanatory, and to a degree it is. Obviously, as the seasons change there are ebbs and flows in the car transport industry that change with it. But what does that really mean for the customer? How does that play out in real life? And why should a customer give it any concern? Here on this page we will attempt to answer those questions.
January’s Major Auto Transport Headache
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? January. It’s a new year. The holidays are over and everybody gets back to the regular grind. In the auto transport business, the first week of January is met with some trepidation. The truck drivers and carriers are just like everybody else and want to be home for the holidays. That means that for over a week they were not on the road, fewer cars were shipped, but shipment orders continued to get booked. A backlog of too much supply (vehicles waiting to ship), is met with a static and insufficient number of trucks available to ship them. Retirees called snowbirds are ready by the tens of thousands to ship their cars to warm weather states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and Southern California. The highest priced freight, called loads, ship first.
The smarter auto transport brokers steer their customers to a higher price, explaining that it is in the customer best interest, which most rational people understand. The rookie or simply inept auto transport companies book more orders at the cheaper prices without explaining that those orders will likely ship last, sometimes weeks after they were made available. For reasons we will never understand, those cheap brokers are willing to listen to screaming customers who rightfully want to know why their car is still sitting in Poughkeepsie while they’ve been in Boca Raton for 3 weeks? Many waste precious time with those fumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’ brokers before canceling their order and going with a more reputable firm … like us! The frigid weather and snowstorms in many parts of the country may also throw a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans. It usually takes 2 or 3 weeks in January to flush out the backlog and return to equilibrium.
February and March’s Lull In Car Shipping
Perhaps one of the slowest months of the year in the car shipping industry is February. Grandma and Grandpa have already made it south. It’s too flipping cold to buy a car on the internet and ship it home. The college kids are at school. Companies don’t relocate employees in the middle of a school year. Yeah, February is slow and after that it is slow some more. It is also a month in which rookie auto transport brokers, or the clueless, get caught with outdated pricing. The difference heading to Florida in January might be $2-300 higher than the reverse. If a broker doesn’t adjust his pricing in February, then some people will book orders for March or April ship dates that have completely bogus pricing which hasn’t a prayer of shipping. Experience and business ethics are very important in the auto transport business.
Toward the end of March the weather is getting better and some snowbirds start to make their way north. The pricing in January should be reversed in March in the warm weather states, with cheaper auto shipping rates heading to Florida, etc. and higher prices shipping from there. People start buying cars again online and business activity picks up. If you think the cost to ship your car is too low in Florida in March, it probably is. For the next 3 months there is no such thing as a good deal. Our recommendation is don’t stress yourself out trying to save $100, because it can cost you more than that in the effort.
April and May Pick Up Again In Car Transports
Spring is in the air. The baseball season begins. The snowbirds are really ramped up again to come home by the tens of thousands. It now becomes really cheap and fast shipping to Florida, Texas, Arizona and Southern California. But it gets far more expensive shipping out of there. And slower because there are more vehicles waiting to ship than space available. It is the reverse of January. This is what we mean by “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport”. Got a cheap price shipping from Florida in May? You’re probably going to wait a long time. Is it worth it? Probably not. Just add an extra $100 (maybe more) and get it done faster.
The Summer Months of June, July and August Are Peak Season
The hot weather months of summer are peak season for auto shipping companies. Companies are relocating employees because the kids are out of school, making the transition easier on families. Those people will drive one car and ship the other. College kids shipped their cars home in late May and June, and do the reverse in August and early September. People have more confidence buying cars online in the summer. The vehicle shipping estimates are somewhat elevated in the summer because of overall heightened demand, but are generally not too onerous. Usually there does not exist a disparity in pricing based upon direction. The car shipping industry is brisk and on an even keel. Except for one hiccup, the 4th of July! Just like at at Christmas, truck drivers and carriers want to be home like everybody else, sipping a cold one and flipping hamburgers. It’s the American thing to do. Ah, but that means another backlog develops and cars don’t ship as fast. Higher priced freight goes first, which is the way Adam Smith predicted it. And just like in January, it will take 2 or 3 weeks for equilibrium to return. Again, that’s what we mean by “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport”.
The Autumn Months of September, October and November Slow Down
The fall months of September, October and November are good times to ship your car. The weather is still mild and the number of car transport shipments are down from the summer, which means faster service and slightly lower car shipping rates. Sometimes the seasonal fluctuations mean a good thing for customers. There is a flurry of college students shipping in September, but all in all there isn’t the mad rush in the fall that there is in the summer. Things slow down for a few days Thanksgiving week, but pick right back up the week after. You should enjoy good prices and faster service in autumn.
December Is Trouble For Auto Shipping
Our so-called “seasonal fluctuations” begin to kick in again in December. Auto shipments are steady and fine just after Thanksgiving and into early and mid-December. However, once the auto transport industry hit Christmas week and New Year’s Eve, vehicle shipments slow to a crawl. Yet the orders keep piling up. The snowbirds are getting ready to fly south. It is perhaps the worst time of year! People get emotional around the holidays. They don’t want to hear any excuses, are disappointed if a grand Christmas present doesn’t arrive in time, and are often times stressed. There isn’t much any auto transport broker can do about it. They don’t drive the trucks and can’t get a carrier to skip the turkey dinner and mom’s apple pie to get on the road to deliver that customer car, it is frustrating for everybody.
Sometimes even adding more money to lure a driver will not work, because if nobody is on the road … then nobody is on the road. When we talk about “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport”, it is the last ten days of December and first ten days of January that we are most thinking about. Those are the three most stressful weeks in the year for auto transporters. Expect to pay more and get less. Doesn’t seem right, does it? The best thing to do is think ahead by having a backup plan in case your shipment does not go the way you envision. Ship in early December before the rush, or pay more during the rush, or wait until things calm down in mid-January after the rush.