DAT Solutions: Spot rates ride strong holiday freight volumes

December 19, 2019

Special to Land Line


Trucks are busy in these final weeks of the holiday shipping. Van freight volumes on DAT MembersEdge were up more than 25% last week and the national average spot van rate for December is $1.91 per mile, 9 cents higher than the November average.

Van trends

The average van rate increased on 26 of DAT’s top 100 van lanes by volume. Forty-three lanes were lower and 31 stayed the same. Outbound freight volume rose steadily on 89 of the top 100 lanes, and the abundance of loads has helped keep rates high. Rate increases were concentrated in markets associated with retail freight.

Notable lane-rate increases last week:

  • Buffalo to Charlotte: $2.11 per mile, up 11 cents.
  • Philadelphia to Boston: $3.88 per mile, up 12 cents. The return trip increased 9 cents to $1.99 per mile.
  • Memphis to Atlanta: $2.52 per mile, up 9 cents.
  • Atlanta to Dallas: $1.64 per mile, up 1 cent. This is the highest rate on this lane since July.

Reefer trends

At the national level during this holiday season, reefer rates are not backing away from pre-Thanksgiving highs. The national average spot reefer rate in December is $2.23 per mile, 5 cents higher than the November average.

Rates rose on high-volume lanes out of Elizabeth, N.J., home to the largest seaport on the East Coast, a sign that demand for capacity to move imported produce is picking up. McAllen, Texas, also had rising rates due to imports.

Philadelphia to Columbus, Ohio, averaged $1.99 per mile, up 14 cents. The eastbound trip is the headhaul at $3.88 per mile, up 68 cents. But there are not a lot of loads so try to organize that return trip before you head to Columbus.

Tri-haul of the week

Memphis-Atlanta-Nashville vans

Last week, Memphis-to-Atlanta vans averaged $2.49 per mile but the return paid $1.60, well below the national average. The round trip averaged $2.05 per loaded mile or $1,550.

You can do better with a tri-haul – that’s DAT’s name for a triangular route. The Pro version of MembersEdge can help you find loads in a higher-paying route back from Atlanta.

One suggestion takes you to Memphis, Tenn., via Nashville, Tenn. Currently Atlanta to Nashville averages $2.29 per mile and Nashville to Memphis averages $2.68. Both legs beat the $1.60 you’d earn with the straight return trip.

With Nashville in the mix, the three-legged route averages out to $2.48 per mile and would boost your revenue to $2,072 on 78 more loaded miles. If it works with your schedule and hours of service, this could be a good way to round out your week.

DAT tr-haul chart with holiday freight data

Remember, these holiday freight rates are averages from last week and this week could 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.