DAT SOLUTIONS: Spot rates return to pre-summer levels

Special to Land Line | 8/22/2018

With summer almost over, shippers are taking their holiday.

Shippers posted 5 percent fewer loads last week while the number of trucks on MembersEdge actually increased slightly. 

With more trucks competing for less freight, rates continued to retreat. The national average van rate fell 2 cents to $2.16 per mile, the flatbed rate slipped 2 cents to $2.67 per mile, and the reefer rate declined a penny to $2.50 per mile.

Let’s look at the Trendlines.

Van loads dip
The number of van load posts dropped 5 percent while truck posts increased 1 percent. The national van load-to-truck ratio fell to 6.5 available loads per truck.

Van rates softer
Of the top 100 van lanes, rates were higher on only 23 lanes while 74 declined and 3 were neutral. Notably, the average van rate from Los Angeles—a major market for imported retail goods—declined 7 cents to $2.63 per mile. Rates were lower on several LA-outbound lanes.

  • Los Angeles to Seattle fell 13 cents at $2.92 per mile.
  • Los Angeles to Denver dropped 8 cents to $3.07 per mile.
  • Los Angeles to Atlanta also decreased 8 cents to $1.95 per mile.

Reefers hold steady
Load posts were in line with the previous week's totals and truck posts edged up 1 percent. The reefer load-to-truck ratio was down to 8.3 loads per truck, and rates responded. Prices were lower on 38 of the top 72 reefer lanes last week.

Regional changes
While the national picture appeared unsettled, produce continued to drive demand in specific markets. For example, with apple season underway in the Upper Midwest, the average outbound rate from Grand Rapids, Mich., increased 27 cents per mile to $3.64 per mile last week – by far the largest gain of any major reefer market. The rate was buoyed by two important lanes:

  • Grand Rapids to Atlanta surged 47 cents to $3.58 per mile; and
  • Grand Rapids to Madison, Wis., increased 41 cents to $3.43 per mile.

Flatbed trends
The national load-to-truck ratio for spot flatbed freight fell for the 10th week in a row. Load posts were down 7 percent last week while truck posts held steady. The national flatbed ratio was 27.4 loads per truck.

Diesel holds
The national average on-highway diesel price moved down 1 cent to $3.21 per gallon. Spot rates include a portion for a fuel surcharge.

Tri-haul of the week:
Chicago-Denver-Rapid City-Chicago
Chicago to Denver paid $2.72 per mile last week, but as always the return trip was not so hot, just $1.26 per mile.

Instead of going straight back to Chicago, look for a load from Denver to Rapid City, S.D. (average rate: $2.15 per mile). From there, loads from Rapid City to Chicago averaged $2.10 per mile last week. All told, that third leg would add about 308 miles (not counting deadhead) – and generate more than $1,500 in revenue if it works 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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