DAT Solutions: Spot rates hit three-year high

December 7, 2017

Special to Land Line


It’s typical to see a big increase in spot market activity in the week after Thanksgiving. A lot of people take a day or two off that week, and comparing a regular workweek to a short one usually results in about 40 percent more load posts.

But load posts on DAT MembersEdge soared 64 percent while the number of available trucks gained 22 percent during the week ending Dec. 2. Strong demand for capacity is keeping spot rates elevated:

  • Reefer: $2.43/mile, unchanged compared to the previous week
  • Van: $2.09/mile, up 2 cents
  • Flatbed: $2.30/mile, up 1 cent

Van loads up 68 percent: Van load post activity increased 68 percent and truck posts gained 23 percent as retail goods made their way across the country from west to east. The van load-to-truck ratio jumped 37 percent from 6.8 to 9.3 loads per truck, an all-time weekly record, and averaged 6.9 for November.

Crazy lanes: We’re still seeing some crazy rates on lanes, though not as many as the previous week. Check these out:

  • Seattle-Spokane jumped up 50 cents to $3.67/mile
  • Columbus-Buffalo paid 19 cents more at an average of $3.81/mile
  • Allentown-Richmond, Va., was also up 19 cents to $2.83/mile
  • Denver-Los Angeles got a 20-cent boost to $1.25/mile but not enough to offset a 30-cent decline in the L.A.-Denver head-haul rate, which paid $3.19 last week. Still, that means the round-trip average was $2.22/mile.

Reefers cool: The national average reefer rate remained strong at $2.43/mile, but weaker rates on most high-traffic lanes indicate a loss of pre-Thanksgiving urgency. Christmas, of course, is around the corner.

Reefer posts jump 55 percent: The number of reefer load posts jumped 55 percent last week while truck posts increased 12 percent, propelling the reefer load-to-truck ratio up 40 percent to 13.2 loads per truck.

Falling rates: Many reefer lanes came down in price after some unseasonable highs.

  • McAllen, Texas-Atlanta tumbled 80 cents to $1.98/mile
  • Twin Falls, Idaho-Chicago came back to earth at $2.17/mile
  • L.A.-Denver fell 39 cents to $3.03/mile
  • Miami-Elizabeth, N.J., retreated from an off-season spike in the previous week, down 34 cents to $1.61/mile.

Flatbeds fall in line: Flatbed load and truck posts increased, as expected, following the Thanksgiving holiday. The number of load posts gained 67 percent and truck posts 42 percent, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to rise 18 percent to 30.6 loads per truck.

Tri-haul of the week
We mentioned that an L.A.-Denver roundtrip average $2.18/mile for reefer loads. Not bad, but if you need more loaded miles, you can add them with a TriHaul.

This TriHaul runs 2,500 loaded miles for about $6,000 compared to 2,000 miles for $4,450. That’s nearly $1,500 more in your pocket for an extra 500 loaded miles. The rate per mile is 18 cents higher for the TriHaul than the roundtrip in a reefer, but the van rate would work out lower for the TriHaul than the roundtrip—and you might have to wait for a load in Amarillo. Look in DAT MembersEdge for other options.

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 MyMembersEdge.com 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.