DAT Solutions: Holiday week pushes rates higher

December 4, 2019

Special to Land Line


With Thanksgiving occurring late in November, the holiday weekend coincided with end-of-month pressures. Spot truckload rates on DAT MembersEdge rose sharply on loads that were picked up during the week ending Dec. 1 as brokers tried to attract capacity during the holidays.

The short workweek curtailed the number of loads moved, as load board activity slowed and load-to-truck ratios fell for all three equipment types.

National average rates, November

  • Van: $1.83 per mile, 3 cents higher than the October average.
  • Reefer: $2.18 per mile, up 7 cents compared to October.
  • Flatbed: $2.11 per mile, 6 cents lower than October.

Van trends

Average rates were higher on 79 of DAT’s top 100 van lanes by volume during Thanksgiving holiday week. Sixteen lanes held steady while only five lanes averaged lower prices.

Where rates were up

Several lanes with big average rate increases last week actually gained in both directions.

  • Portland, Ore., to Stockton, Calif., averaged $1.91 per mile, up 30 cents compared to the previous week. Stockton to Portland gained 6 cents to $2.53 per mile.
  • Philadelphia to Columbus, Ohio, averaged $1.56 a mile, up 11 cents, while the return rose 9 cents to $2.95 per mile. This lane is associated with retail freight moving to warehouses.
  • Charlotte, N.C., to Memphis, Tenn., gained 11 cents to $1.59 a mile while the return averaged $2.17 per mile, up 13 cents. Memphis is a hub for truckload freight as well as parcel.

Reefer trends

Reefer load-posting activity started last week strong and tapered off toward Thanksgiving Day. Unlike van posts, reefer load posts actually picked up on Friday as grocery stores and distribution centers get replenished and restocked for the holidays ahead.

Where rates were up

Average outbound rates increased in most major reefer markets during the Thanksgiving holiday week. Two lanes stand out for the size of their rate increase compared to the previous week:

  • Tucson, Ariz., to Los Angeles, up 17 cents to $2.03 per mile, due to an influx of imported produce at the Nogales, Ariz., border crossing. The return trip increased 18 cents to an average of $3.27 per mile.
  • Chicago to Kansas City, Mo., up 21 cents to $2.66 per mile. The return trip added 12 cents to an average of $2.39 per mile.

Tri-haul of the week

Los Angeles-Phoenix-San Diego-Los Angeles vans

During Thanksgiving holiday week, the van lane from the Los Angeles market to Phoenix averaged $2.96 per mile while the return trip paid just $1.39. The professional version of MembersEdge can suggest a third leg between the two markets that generates better revenue.

One option is a route from Phoenix to San Diego, which averaged $1.57 per mile last week while San Diego to Los Angeles was $4.60. The straight round trip from L.A. to Phoenix, averaging both ways, paid $2.18 per loaded mile for a total of $1,618 in revenue. The tri-haul, however, averaged $2.61 a mile for $2,209 in revenue. You’d add 102 miles of mostly freeway driving, but this tri-haul could be a good choice if the traffic and your hours of service cooperate.

Remember, these rates are seven-day averages and they include Thanksgiving holiday week, when rates moved higher. This week will be different. Negotiate the best deal you can on every haul, and look at the rates and load-to-truck ratios in MembersEdge to understand which way the rates are trending.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit the load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com per industry-trends per Trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.