With the help of Jim Tennant of The Tennant Group and Michael Meyer of Rate-Highway, Inc., we are conducting rate surveys on a weekly basis and providing analysis and comments where appropriate. We publish this monthly recap in our electronic edition and more comprehensive looks in the print editions.
As we suspected last month, the substantial year-over-year increases in the rate quotes have ended, at least for one month. However, it is, in our opinion, too early to say that April is the start of a trend of flat or decreased year-over-year rate quotes for two reasons.
A look at the individual cities provides one clue. In April, four of the six cities had healthy increases over 2012 and in March, five of the six did. However, in both months, Houston had very large decreases and in April Chicago did as well. The size of the decreases in these two cities was enough to somewhat flatten the six city curve in March and turn it into a year-over-year decrease in April. However, the rates in Houston and Chicago in April, 2013 were certainly no cause for alarm – Houston was $57.26 and Chicago was $53.75 per day for a mid-size car! The March and April, 2012 rates in these two cities were extraordinarily high and they were substantially lower in 2013 (but still quite high), pulling down the six city average.
A second reason to wait and see if April is the start of a trend is a look at the weekly quotes that make up the monthly averages. We should not rely on one or two weeks, because the rates can be quite volatile, but the weekly rate quotes show a drop in rates starting the third week in March, staying down or flat until the last week in April, which is up $6.43, 2013 over 2012. This may be a temporary drop and rebound, possibly caused by an early Easter/ Spring Break or some other reason(s). It will be interesting to see what May brings.