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Shipping on the Fourth of July and Other Holidays: How to Prepare

Millions of Americans take advantage of nationally observed holidays to celebrate, travel, and spend time with friends and family. However, the transportation industry always has to stay moving, no matter the holiday; in fact, seasonal holidays and events can be some of the busiest and most complicated times of the year for shippers and carriers. Managing an increased demand, office closures, permit requirements, and more can make what would normally be a routine shipment into a complex puzzle. The best way to handle this is to know how holidays will affect your supply chain and the necessary steps to prepare for them. Here are the holidays you need to have on your calendar, as well as the ways shippers, carriers, and drivers are all affected by holidays.

Which Holidays Do I Need to Prepare For?

Each holiday can affect your supply chain in different ways, depending on how it’s recognized or celebrated. Any federal holiday can result in office closures, changes in demand, and delays. As of 2024, this list contains all nationally recognized holidays to prepare for:

  • New Year’s Day: January 1st
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 3rd Monday in January
  • President’s Day: 3rd Monday in February
  • Memorial Day: Last Monday in May
  • Juneteenth: June 19th
  • Independence Day: July 4th
  • Labor Day: 1st Monday in September
  • Columbus Day: 2nd Monday in October
  • Veteran’s Day: November 11th
  • Thanksgiving: 4th Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day: December 25th

How Do Holidays Affect Shippers and Carriers?

  • Fluctuations in Demand: Each holiday will bring their own changes in demand that shippers and carriers should be prepared for, depending on your industry. For example, carriers hauling consumer goods or food leading up to Christmas will likely see increased demand, while carriers who focus on hauling industrial machinery and building materials may see decreased demand as construction projects slow down for the holidays. Reviewing historical data on shipment volumes and consulting with industry partners can help forecast these changes more accurately.
  • Changes in Shipping Rates: This is another factor that depends heavily on your industry and shipments, but rates can fluctuate during a holiday season. Reasons for this may include fewer trucks available, extra holiday or overtime pay for employees and drivers, difficult driving conditions, and more.
  • Delays: While a delay is possible any time of the year, holidays can be an extra factor that will throw off deliveries if you’re not prepared. It may take extra time to arrange a shipment due to an office closure, and loads could end up sitting for an extra day if there’s nobody at the consignee to accept it.
  • Workforce Availability: While truckers aren’t guaranteed a majority of federal holidays off, drivers may choose to take home time or use vacation days to spend a holiday with their families. This will mean less drivers available to haul loads, and more drivers that need to be routed home. Be sure to coordinate with your fleet in advance and assign loads accordingly.
  • Permit Requirements: On occasions when a lot of travel is expected, some specialized loads will be required to take alternative routes or not be permitted on the roads at all. Before you ship during a holiday, closely review the requirements for not just your origin and destination state, but every state in which your load will be passing through.

How Do Holidays Affect Drivers?

  • Shifts in Load Availability: With the change in demand comes the change in load assignments a driver will receive. In the days leading up to a long weekend or holiday, loads will either have to be shorter distances that are scheduled to arrive right before a holiday closure, or run over the long weekend so they arrive by the time the offices are back open.
  •  Heavy Traffic and Delays: With an increased number of drivers on the road for these holidays comes an influx of traffic and an increased chance of accidents. If you’re expecting to drive near a holiday, allow yourself extra time to make it to your destination and remain highly alert to other drivers around you.

Preparing for Holiday Disruptions

  • Check Your Schedule and Plan Ahead: While holidays can cause delays and slowdowns, none of these issues should be a surprise. Be sure to keep updated on which holidays fall on which days, and prepare for them accordingly. To better understand what you need to do, review your company’s performance over holidays in past years. How was demand affected? What delays occurred that we could expect this year?
  • Remain Flexible: Supporting flexibility in your operations is the key to minimizing the effects of holidays. As a carrier, leave extra time for drivers to reach their destinations, and research alternate routes to take in case main roads are heavily impacted by holiday travel. If you’re a shipper, you may expect rates above normal to account for holiday pay and additional challenges.
  • Keep Communication Open: Discuss with your customers in advance what a federal holiday means for their business hours and expectations. If any problems occur, let them know as soon as possible and provide a solution. Take advantage modern load-tracking technology to monitor your shipments in real-time. This not only provides peace of mind, but also allows for quick adjustments if delays or route changes are necessary.

Holiday delays will occur every year without fail, which makes it all the more important to plan for them in advance and know how they affect your business. At Melton, our seventy years of experience have equipped us to handle any challenge. Our customer service team and our modern load-tracking technology ensure that your shipment is taken care of, regardless of the holiday or time of year. To learn more about how Melton can fulfill your flatbed shipping needs, visit our services page here.

About the Author: Melton Truck Lines

Since 1954, Melton Truck Lines has set out to provide quality transportation services to customers, all while treating our drivers like family. Over 70 years later, Melton remains a leader in flatbed transportation.

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