What to Expect in the Shipping Industry: September 2023

RGN Trailer Hauling Wind Farm Cargo

September is a transitional time in many families and many industries. School starts, regular season baseball ends, iced coffee gives way to pumpkin spice lattes and Labor Day marks the unofficial beginning of fall. 

While the trucking industry doesn’t have clean endings or beginnings (drivers work 24/7), things do start to transition with the falling of the leaves. New fruits and vegetables crop up (see what we did there?), construction kicks into a frenzy before it snows in the northern states and retail merchandisers transition from back-to-school to the holiday season. 

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we like to take in a deep breath of crisp fall air and embrace the change of seasons. In the past 68 years, patterns have emerged in the trucking industry during September. In this article, we’ll outline these patterns, the effect they’ll have on your supply chain and what you can do to plan ahead this year. 

Preparation is key to the success of any worthwhile endeavor. Let’s get down to it.

Below, we'll outline:

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How Labor Day 2023 Impacts Shipping

Labor Day (Labour Day in Canada) is Monday, September 4. This three-day weekend is often one last chance for families to take a road trip before school activities take over the calendar. 

Like most of us, drivers prefer to spend the long weekend with their families. This means there are fewer trucks on the road, leading to a spike in shipping rates. Drivers who are working the long weekend will expect to earn more, making shipping even more expensive. 

This impact to the supply chain will linger for a few days after the holiday as shippers catch up on loads delayed over the holiday. 

Because it’s an annual event, Labor Day shipping prices and availability shouldn’t be a surprise to experienced shippers and carriers. By planning your freight needs before or after the holiday, you can lessen the impact on your budget and your supply chain.


What Does Back-to-School Mean to the Trucking Industry? 

When school starts, yellow buses return to the nation’s roads. You know to stop when the sign extends and kids are getting on and off the bus. Do you know what back-to-school means for transportation? 

Drivers are parents too, and they are also adjusting to a new family schedule. Whether they are switching to a designated lane closer to home or they are trying to make it home for the first band concert, many drivers are changing their schedule to accommodate family needs. 

Back to school is a nationwide event (although kids in some areas have been back for a few weeks already), which means no regional impact. It’s more likely to be felt in areas that rely on long hauls, which don’t make it easy for drivers to be home at night. 

September is a busy time for drivers at home, and also on the road. The change of seasons means plenty to haul. 

What’s in Enclosed Trailers in September? 

Now that the shelves are emptied of backpacks, notebooks and dorm furniture, retailers are putting out costumes and candy — and then quickly transitioning to twinkly lights, wrapping paper and literally anything that can be wrapped and opened in December. 

But holiday-themed items aren’t the only things moving around the country in September. The functional end of the growing season in the Midwest means apples, pumpkins, cabbages, tomatoes, squash and green beans also need to make it to warehouses, grocers and canners across the country. Refrigerated and dry van trailers will have plenty of work to do in these areas of our country. 

Since truck drivers offer such a coveted service in September’s harvest regions, the price of their trailer space will surge to match increased demand. Everyone has something to move in these regions which makes a truck driver’s offerings plenty lucrative. 

If you’re hoping to move reefer or dry van commodities out of the Midwest or Northwest during September, expect your freight rate to rise. 

If you're looking for a carrier, ATS can help.

Dry Van Capacity in September

53-Foot Dry Van Trailer

Dry vans are used to transport nearly all retail goods and non-perishable food items. As consumers start looking for sweaters, footballs and comforters as well as pumpkin spice seasoning, apples and canned green beans, dry van space will be at a premium. 

Those gifted at planning ahead know that Christmas trees and gift sets will soon be available at retailers nationwide — hauled in a dry van. Freshly canned green beans are headed to store shelves, and both decorative and canned pumpkins are needed at most grocery stores. 

In short, this is not the time to expect quick, cheap dry van deliveries. Planning ahead and being flexible with your delivery dates are one way to get your commodities moved to their destination without breaking the bank. If you prefer to pay more for a faster delivery, be sure to mention that as well. Get started today to see what options are available

Reefer Freight in September

It’s harder to plan around harvest season. Weather obviously has a huge impact. And with so many crops being ready at once, trucks need to be prepared to move fast to make the most of the busy season

The busiest crop harvesting is in the Midwest — meaning trucks will be moving around this region and may not want to leave. Here are three things to keep in mind this September:

  1. If you’re located in this area, expect to pay a premium to incentivize a driver to choose your load. 

  2. Loads moving out of the Midwest may have a hard time finding a driver. 

  3. Moving freight into the midwest may be less expensive as drivers are eager to return to this profitable part of the country.

All enclosed trucks will be in high demand in September. If you need to move a load of freight in a reefer or dry van, you will have the best chances of success if you are able to be flexible with your dates and/or pay a premium.

What Happens with Flatbed Shipments in September

September is one of the last months of predictable weather in the northern states. Construction and infrastructure projects are working at a frenzied pace to finish up before the ground freezes. Lumber, construction materials and heavy equipment will be moving north as fast as possible. 

The benefit of flatbed trailers is that they can often be interchangeable. If your freight can be moved on a standard flatbed trailer without exceeding legal load limits, it can probably be hauled on a step-deck trailer

Flexibility is a huge advantage when it comes to busy shipping seasons, and if you can be flexible with the dates and trailer type, you have a much better chance of finding a truck and driver. If you aren’t experienced with shipping and knowledgeable about different trailer types, you need a trusted partner who can advise you of your options and the pros and cons of each. 


Shipping Over-dimensional Loads in September

September has several complications when it comes to shipping oversized freight, here are a few of them: 

  • During September, we lose nearly two minutes of daylight every day. This rapid change greatly impacts the number of hours permitted loads can legally travel.

  • At the beginning of the month, the long Labor Day weekend means more restrictions on the number of hours and days permitted loads can travel. Each state has its own set of restrictions; if you are moving oversize freight that weekend, be sure to verify the origin and destination states, as well as any other states along the travel path.

  • Perhaps most surprisingly, football season means oversize travel restrictions in some major college football towns. If there’s a home game with thousands of people likely to be in attendance, you might have to drive around town to move an oversize load. 

Permitted load restrictions are regulated by the government, and drivers have no flexibility when it comes to moving these loads. Starting this month, plan for a significant slowdown when it comes to moving over-dimensional freight. 


Get Regular Transportation Industry Updates in September and Beyond

September isn’t the only month that has new beginnings and changes to the freight shipping schedule. Working with an experienced carrier will give you an advantage when it comes to shipping any day…they stay on top of what’s going on in the industry, so you can focus on your business. 

As with most months, flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to successfully shipping in September. Ask your carrier if there are any restrictions or special considerations when it comes to moving your particular load.

If you want to stay informed, our Learning Hub always has the latest and greatest information about what’s happening across the trucking industry. Subscribe so you don’t miss any vital updates.  

Tags: Insider, Freight Brokerage, Flatbed Shipping, Dry Van Shipping, Contract Rate Pricing, Spot Rate Pricing, Asset-Based Carrier

Eric Metso

Written by Eric Metso

Eric has been a sales manager with ATS Logistics since 2018 — when he helped create a new sales team from scratch. In his role, he supports his team as they develop their book of business and create new partnerships. Eric joined ATS in 2013 as a sales representative for ATS Logistics. He was also a sales member with ATS’ Vans division before coming back to ATS Logistics in his current role.

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