When do most people move? And why should you care?
Generally, summer is the busiest season for moving. So, why does that matter to you? As with everything else in the economy, the law of supply and demand, and the resulting availability of time & capacity, are heavily impacted by seasonality.
So, what does that actually look like?
It will change from year to year but generally follows a pattern similar to:
Percent of Annual Moves During the Month:
- January: 5% – 7% of moves
- February: 5% – 7% of moves
- March: 7% – 9% of moves
- April: 7% – 9% of moves
- May: 8% – 10% of moves
- June: 12% -14% of moves
- July: 12%-14% of moves
- August: 11%-13% of moves
- September: 8% – 10% of moves
- October: 7% – 9% of moves
- November: 5% – 7% of moves
- December: 5% – 7% of moves
The moving season is on a general bell curve. It will vary by mover and geography. The above is more representative of the northern movers. But, as shown, there can be 2 to 3 times more move activity during the summer months vs winter.
Why does it cost more to move in summer?
Over the summer month, movers may charge more for their services. They are not necessarily taking advantage of movers, but by using pricing, they can better manage the demand for their available time slots to execute moves. It is also when much of their equipment generates income rather than sitting idle. The higher demand puts pressure on the system in several ways.
Even with seasonal help, a limited amount of labor is available to perform professional moves. While it may not seem apparent, movers must be trained in specific skills to minimize damage and keep them safe. So, it is not simply a matter of just putting bodies on the job. Skilled labor takes time to develop, and seasonal labor is difficult to manage.
Availability of Trucks
For any capital investment, businesses must see a steady return. Moving companies must balance the availability of trucks with the seasonal swings in demand. If they have enough trucks to meet the highest summer demand level, they will have a large number sitting idle for 7-9 months of the year. If the trucks are not producing, then they will not be able to pay loans or see a return on the investment.
Some movers will hire contract truckers to haul loads once in the trailer. But, this additional cost point also puts upward pressure on the total cost.
Long Distance Cargo Capacity
For long-distance moves, van lines often combine loads from one area to another and then split them into smaller loads for final destination delivery. At each stage, there must be cargo capacity available. Much like the movers’ investment in a truck, the hauled trailers need to be full to make money. Enough capacity to meet all the demand in summer means much-unused capacity during a large portion of the year. This impacts the ability to pay off loans or receive a return on the investment. So, capacity must be managed to ensure the cash flow can handle the investment demands even in slow months.
During slow months, movers compete for less demand as their equipment and non-seasonal labor are idle. They are also trying to maximize cash flow to handle the payments on capital equipment. So, the dynamic changes from making reasonable profits during high-demand months at full capacity to getting as many jobs as possible to maximize utilization… even at a lower profit per move.
Best Day of the Week to Move
As you might expect, the weekend and adjacent days are the highest… except Sunday. Friday, Saturday, and Monday take up 16% – 20% of the moves, with Tues-Thurs around 11%-14%. Sunday is about 8%.
This indicates people trying to accommodate work or school schedules to minimize disruption.
How much can you save by moving in winter?
Winter is a lower cost for moving. How much lower will depend on where you live and where you are moving to.
According to Angi.com, winter moves can be 20-30% lower than peak season summer moving rates. You will need to check with movers in your area. Scheduling during the week can also help lower the quote from the moving company.
In addition to lower costs, moving in the winter will also provide more flexibility in scheduling your move.
Peak moving season has a lot of ramifications on scheduling and cost for your move. If you are flexible and can wait for winter to make a move, it will be greatly beneficial.