Elevated spot truckload activity cools ahead of traditional summer peak

June 25, 2021

Land Line Staff

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Freight volumes on DAT MembersEdge fell 1.4% during the week ending June 20 as shippers work to loosen backlogged dry van, refrigerated and flatbed cargo. Capacity tightened as the total number of trucks posted declined 6.3% compared to the previous week.

National average spot rates showed little movement up or down, however. Already elevated, pricing does not appear to be ramping up further ahead of the July 4 holiday and back-to-school retail shopping. Here are the national average spot truckload rates for the month through June 20:

  • Van: $2.67 per mile, unchanged from the May average.
  • Flatbed: $3.14 per mile, 3 cents higher than May.
  • Reefer: $3.08 per mile, down 2 cents compared to May.

 

Load to truck ratios, DAT MembersEdge

 

These rates are month-to-date national averages and include a calculated fuel surcharge. This week will be different. Negotiate the best deal you can get on every haul, and look at the rates and load-to-truck ratios in MembersEdge to understand which way the rates are trending.

Trends to watch

Van volume shifts down

In DAT’s top 100 van freight markets by volume, the number of loads moved fell 3.7% week over week and has been relatively stable since April except for an expected decline during Memorial Day week. Nationally, the van load-to-truck ratio increased from 4.5 to 5.2 as spot capacity stayed tight last week.

California van markets are hot as ever

Van freight is abundant in Southern California as shippers work to loosen logistical obstacles. Los Angeles to Phoenix, a key lane for imported retail goods, averaged $4.52 a mile last week including a fuel surcharge, 13 cents higher than the week prior. At that spot rate, many carriers are quickly making their turn in Phoenix and coming back empty to Los Angeles, Ontario and other markets in California.

Flatbed load posts continue to slide

Flatbed load post volume fell 10% compared to the previous week and is down 20% compared to May levels. The national average flatbed load-to-truck ratio dropped from 73.4 to 65.5 last week with very little change in the availability of equipment. The number of loads moved on DAT’s top 78 flatbed markets during the week ending June 20 is down 5.9% since the last full week of May.

It’s produce season so reefers are surging

Reefer freight volume on the DAT network was up 14% week over week as harvest activity increases and consumers stock up for summer. The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio increased from 9.2 to 11.3 although rates on high-volume lanes appeared to plateau.

Spot reefer demand is highly affected by produce distribution.

The reefer lane from Atlanta to Miami averaged $3.67 a mile last week, up almost 30 cents over the past four weeks. This coincides with the end of produce season in Southern Florida, when outbound spot rates and freight availability plummet. At the same time, California is now home to the country’s hottest reefer lanes, including Ontario to Stockton ($4.26 per mile); Los Angeles to Stockton ($4.28); Fresno to Chicago ($3.51); and Los Angeles to Phoenix ($4.87). Spot freight volume from these markets are beginning to shift lower, however.

National average spot rates are derived from DAT RateView, a database of $110 billion in actual market transactions. Get the latest spot pricing information at DAT.com/trendlines or take a deeper dive with Market Insights at DAT.com/blog.

Stay safe, and thank you for your hard work. LL

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Check out the April 15, 2021, DAT report for Land Line here.

TBS