DAT Solutions: Tropical storm dampens spot market demand

September 25, 2019

Special to Land Line


Activity on DAT MembersEdge slowed last week due in part to Tropical Storm Imelda, which produced severe rain and flooding in the Houston area and disrupted supply chains across the South and Midwest.

The number of loads posted on the network dropped 25% compared to the previous week, and the number of truck posts fell 17%. The price of diesel, meanwhile, shot up 9 cents to $3.08 per gallon as a national average.

National average spot rates, September 2019 (through Sept. 22)

  • Van: $1.84 per mile, 3 cents higher than the August average.
  • Flatbed: $2.19 per mile, 1 cent lower than August.
  • Reefer: $2.17 per mile, 3 cents higher than August.
DAT map showing van load-to-truck ratios
The van load-to-truck ratio averaged 2.1 last week, with higher demand in western markets that are alternatives to Houston, still reeling from Tropical Storm Imelda. (Courtesy DAT Solutions)

Van trends

The van load-to-truck ratio averaged 2.1, down from 2.4 the previous week. Spot van rates were higher on 41 of DAT’s top 100 largest van lanes by volume, with few notable price swings.

Where rates were up

Denver increased 6 cents to an average of $1.24 per mile. Rates were higher from Denver to Houston ($1.30 per mile, up 12 cents) and other markets (like Oklahoma City) that generally use Houston-based businesses in their supply chains. Suppliers in Denver helped pick up the slack.

Where they weren’t

The effects of Hurricane Dorian continue to fade, with demand for trucks falling in the Southeast:

  • Atlanta to Charlotte dropped 17 cents to $2.21 per mile.
  • Atlanta to Miami fell 13 cents to $2.54 per mile.

Reefer trends

Demand for reefer trucks edged lower, with the national average load-to-truck ratio slipping from 4.5 to 3.9. Spot reefer rates rose on 34 of DAT’s top 72 reefer lanes.

Where rates were up

Tree-fruit harvests continue to generate volume in the Upper Midwest. Grand Rapids, Mich., to Madison, Wis., rose 26 cents to an average of $3.07 per mile last week. The return trip paid $3.55 per mile – that’s an average of $3.31 per mile for the 662-mile round trip between the two markets.

Round trip of the week

Albuquerque, N.M.-Denver

It’s pumpkin season in Albuquerque, N.M., creating opportunities for both van and reefer haulers. The van load-to-truck ratio there hit 15 to 1 with more than 2,400 loads posted on DAT MembersEdge. The reefer ratio was 37 to 1 with more than 2,500 available loads.

Albuquerque to Denver averaged $2.40 per mile last week, while the return averaged $1.74 per mile. That’s an average of $2.07 per mile for the 894-mile roundtrip. For reefers, Albuquerque to Denver averaged $3.14 per mile with $2.85 per mile on the return. That’s a roundtrip average of $2.99 per mile.

Remember, these rates are averages from last week, and this week could be different. Negotiate the best deal you can on every haul, and check 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 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.

Previous market coverage from DAT:

DAT Solutions: With fewer loads available, spot rates fall