DAT Solutions: Spot van and reefer freight heat up for the holidays

Special to Land Line | 11/15/2017

The availability of spot truckload freight on DAT MembersEdge slipped 1.6 percent and the number of posted trucks rebounded 7.6 percent during the week ending Nov. 11.

The added capacity last week didn’t knock rates off their unseasonably high perch. Leading into the holiday shopping season, national average spot van and reefer rates are hovering at or near peak levels because of demand for truckload capacity as well as higher fuel surcharges.

  • Van: $2.06/mile, down 1 cent compared to the previous week
  • Flatbed: $2.30/mile, up 1 cent
  • Reefer: $2.37/mile, unchanged

Holiday effects: The general trend is for higher rates on eastbound lanes, with more demand for deliveries into the population centers in the Northeast.

Fuel prices: The national average price of on-highway diesel added 4 cents to $2.92/gallon, the highest in 30 months.

Van posts still rising: The number of posted van loads on the board was up 1 percent after a 7 percent jump the previous week. The number of available trucks increased 8 percent, which pushed the van load-to-truck ratio down from 6.3 to 5.9 van loads per truck. The van load-to-truck ratio is still twice as high as the same period a year ago.

Van rates still steady: Spot van rates moderated or stayed elevated in key markets across the country compared to the previous week:

  • Los Angeles, $2.58/mile, up 9 cents
  • Chicago, $3.33/mile, unchanged after jumping 14 cents the previous week
  • Memphis, $2.32/mile, up 1 cent
  • Atlanta, $2.21/mile, down 3 cents
  • Dallas, $1.76/mile, down 3 cents
  • Houston, $1.70/mile, unchanged

Lane to watch: One example of that west-to-east freight trend: the average Los Angeles-Chicago spot rate climbed 11 cents to $1.81/mile – not exceptionally high but still a strong rate considering that it’s a busy and competitive intermodal lane.

Reefer volumes stay hot… The number of reefer load posts increased 4 percent to build on an 18 percent jump the previous week. The reefer load-to-truck ratio dipped slightly from 11.8 to 11.5 loads per truck as available capacity was up 7 percent. That ratio is still more than a full point above the October average of 10.4.

But reefer prices are mixed: Pricing in several stalwart reefer markets was strong—McAllen, Texas, added 4 cents to average $2/mile and Green Bay was up 15 cents to $3.84/mile. Rates elsewhere cooled. The average outbound rate from Chicago retreated 5 cents to $3.26/mile after a 14-cent pickup the previous week; Elizabeth, N.J., fell 22 cents to $1.98/mile; and Lakeland, Fla., decreased 4 cents to $1.26/mile.

Flatbeds slower: After hitting 50.2 loads per truck at the end of September, the flatbed ratio is easing off. Last week flatbed load posts declined 9 percent and truck posts increased 7 percent to push the load-to-truck ratio down 15 percent to 29. That’s still high for the season.

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 OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com/industry-trends/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.



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