DAT SOLUTIONS: Spot van demand heats up as holiday freight rolls

Special to Land Line | 11/29/2018

Thanksgiving meant there was less activity on DAT MembersEdge during the week ending Nov. 24. Load and truck posts were both down 26 percent, in line with expectations for a holiday week. 

But the declines varied based on equipment type. Van load posts fell at a much slower rate than truck posts, a sign that demand for capacity is heating up as we head into December.

Diesel prices continue to drift lower, falling another 2 cents last week to $3.26 per gallon as a national average. Lower fuel prices helped keep national average spot truckload rates in check:

  • Van: $2.07 per mile, down 1 cent.
  • Reefer: $2.47 per mile, unchanged.
  • Flatbed: $2.41 per mile, down 1 cent.

Van trends

Van load posts fell 12 percent but truck posts declined even more, down 28 percent. The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 6.4, a 21 percent increase from the previous week.

Beyond Black Friday
Black Friday used to mark the end of the retail-freight season but activity on MembersEdge last week shows how e-commerce has extended the holiday freight push. Demand for trucks sent spot van rates up in most major van markets: 78 of the top 100 van lanes had higher rates last week, with big gains on lanes closely tied to retail.

  • Buffalo to Allentown: $3.69 per mile, up 38 cents.
  • Columbus to Allentown, $3.37 per mile, up 23 cents.
  • Atlanta to Philadelphia, $2.41 per mile, up 30 cents.
  • Memphis to Columbus, $2.33 per mile, up 20 cents.
  • Chicago to Detroit, $3.46 per mile, up 22 cents

Reefer trends

The number of reefer load posts on MembersEdge was down 33 percent and truck posts declined 19 percent. As a result, the national reefer load-to-truck ratio dropped 17 percent to 6.2 loads per truck.

California cooler
Regionally, rates from central California dipped, which is to be expected with Thanksgiving week not conducive to long-haul activity. The romaine lettuce recall may have taken a bite out of volumes.
Florida flourish
One surprise last week was a sharp rise in Florida reefer rates, including Lakeland, where the average outbound rate increased 12 cents to $1.64 per mile. The lane from Miami to Elizabeth, N.J., jumped 36 cents to $2.14 per mile.

Flatbed trends

Flatbed load posts were down 45 percent and truck posts fell 36 percent, which helped send the national flatbed load-to-truck ratio down from 18.5 to 15.9 loads per truck. 

Turning a corner
Activity was stronger out of Houston, which is the biggest flatbed market in the country. There were also gains in markets like Fort Worth, Savannah, and Roanoke. It’s hard to say if that was only a holiday-week trend or the start of a flatbed price recovery. We’ll keep an eye on it.

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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