Atlanta, Houston topped 2020 freight markets, DAT says

January 12, 2021

Land Line Staff


Atlanta reigns supreme among the top freight markets of 2020, at least in the dry van and reefer segments. When it comes to flatbed freight, though, Houston was on top.

That is according to data from Beaverton, Ore.-based DAT Freight & Analytics, which recently announced the top freight markets for last year.

This data is based on spot market outbound loads collected by the DATiQ database, which represents more than $126 billion in annual shipments. The rankings were calculated based on spot market truckload shipments over 250 miles.

OOIDA members have access to DAT’s load board at a discounted rate. OOIDA and DAT have offered the discounted service since 2004.

Two freight markets entered the dry van top 10 in 2020: Charlotte, N.C., and Memphis, Tenn. They replaced Indianapolis and Elizabeth, N.J., which had been in the 2019 top 10.

The van lane with the most traffic was Ontario, Calif., to Stockton, Calif.

For reefers, the top lane was Atlanta to Lakeland, Fla. The busiest flatbed lane was Houston to Lubbock, Texas.

DAT also reports that in 2020 there was a surge in spot market activity that can be attributed to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In a normal year, about 12% to 15% of all truckload shipments are spot market loads. Last year, however, up to 23% of all truckloads were spot shipments.

Dry van

  1. Atlanta
  2. Dallas
  3. Ontario, Calif.
  4. Houston
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Columbus, Ohio
  7. Charlotte, N.C.
  8. Memphis, Tenn.
  9. Chicago
  10. Joliet, Ill.


  1. Atlanta
  2. Fresno, Calif.
  3. Ontario, Calif.
  4. San Francisco
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Dallas
  8. Joliet, Ill.
  9. Elizabeth, N.J.
  10. Chicago


  1. Houston
  2. Cleveland, Ohio
  3. Dallas
  4. Fort Worth, Texas
  5. Atlanta
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Pittsburgh
  8. Oklahoma City, Okla.
  9. Chicago
  10. Memphis, Tenn.

Post-pandemic freight market outlook

With the approval and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the end of the pandemic has begun, DAT said in its December freight market forecast.

While many thought the pandemic would curtail retail sales, in fact the opposite occurred. More households turned to e-commerce to buy groceries and consumable. In addition, though, they also purchases more durable goods, such as furniture, appliances, fitness equipment, and so forth. Spending was 30% higher year over year on durable goods, DAT reports.

In the first quarter of 2021, DAT predicts consumers will begin spending on activities denied during lockdowns, such as restaurants, travel, live music and the like. While there will probably be a restocking surge in the first quarter, DAT expects strong demand for durable goods will not continue at the pandemic pace. LL


Georgia is attempting to address issues related to Atlanta and the rest of the state being such a hot freight market. The Georgia Freight and Logistics Plan report includes some recommendations, as Land Line Staff Writer Tyson Fisher reports.