DAT SOLUTIONS: Spot freight rates slide again

Special to Land Line | 8/16/2018

Last week, the national average van rate on DAT MembersEdge gave up 6 cents, the fifth straight week of declines for spot truckload van freight. Likewise, the national flatbed rate dipped 6 cents and the reefer rate slipped 3 cents compared to the previous week.

Why? Let’s take a closer look at the DAT Trendlines.

Load posts decline
The number of load posts for all types of spot truckload freight on MembersEdge fell 5 percent last week while truck posts rose 3 percent. With more trucks competing for fewer loads, load-to-truck ratios declined for all three equipment types.

  • Van ratio: 6.9 loads per truck, down 3 percent compared to the previous week
  • Reefer ratio: 8.5, down 5 percent, and slightly below where it was a year ago
  • Flatbed ratio: 29.5, down 19 percent, nearly where it was this time a year ago

Rates fall, too
The national average van rate was $2.18 per mile, down 6 cents, while the flatbed rate was $2.69 per mile, also off 6 cents. The reefer rate was $2.51 per mile, down 3 cents. However, rates remain roughly 20 percent higher compared to this time of year.

Van trend
Spot van volumes declined 1 percent last week while truck posts increased 2 percent.

Hot van markets
Prices were down in most markets. Rates held up the best out of the Midwest, and rates did rise on a handful of regional lanes.

  • Columbus, Ohio, to Buffalo, N.Y.: $3.77 per mile, up 23 cents
  • Buffalo to Allentown, Pennsylvania: $3.46 per mile, up 11 cents
  • Chicago to Los Angeles: $1.54 per mile, up 9 cents

Down in the South
Outbound rates in Dallas and Houston have fallen more than 10 percent in the past month and currently sit at $2 per mile and $2.10 per mile, respectively. A lack of pipeline capacity in the West Texas oilfields has led to a slowdown in drilling, and steel tariffs have made new projects more expensive.

Reefers trending lower: The national reefer load-to-truck ratio is now below where it was at this time a year ago. One factor: shipments out of California have stalled, perhaps hampered by wildfires, and as a result these volumes weren’t there to offset declines in other parts of the country. Two lanes out of California showed significant declines:

  • Fresno to Seattle dropped 24 cents to $3.41 per mile; and
  • Sacramento to Portland, Oregon, was down 21 cents but still averaged $3.90 per mile.

Melon shipments did bolster load counts from McAllen, Texas. Apple season also boosted volumes out of the Midwest.

Tri-haul of the week: Chicago-Dallas-Oklahoma City-Chicago

Van rates for shipments between Chicago and Dallas pretty well illustrate how Midwest prices are holding steady while rates out of Texas have slipped. The southbound trip paid an average of $2.29 per mile last week while the northbound trip out of Dallas fell to just $1.49.

You can push your average rate per loaded mile well above $2 per mile if you turn the roundtrip into a tri-haul.

Instead of going from Dallas to Chicago, take a short haul from Dallas to Oklahoma City, which paid $3.73 per mile on average last week. For the final leg of the trip from OKC to Chicago, the average rate was $2.03.

Not counting deadhead, the extra leg only adds about 77 miles, but if you just negotiate for the average rate on each lane, you’d be getting $2.34 per loaded mile for the tri-haul instead of just $1.89 on the regular roundtrip. That works out to more than $1,000 in revenue if you can make it work with your schedule.

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.




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