Just when spot truckload rates and demand seemed ready for an upward swing, they took another hit.
With weather disruptions on vital truck routes in the Midwest and Rockies, refrigerated and van load-to-truck ratios slipped during the week ending March 16, 2019, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards:
•Reefer—2.9 loads per truck
•Van—1.6 loads per truck
•Flatbed—22 loads per truck
The DAT load-to-truck ratio measures the number of loads moved on the spot market relative to the number of available trucks. National average rates declined as well compared to the previous week:
•Reefer—$2.19/mile, down 2 cents
•Van—$1.86/mile, down 2 cents
The national average spot reefer rate has declined in seven of the past eight weeks. On the top 72 reefer lanes, 26 lanes moved up while 43 lanes fell and three were neutral. California and Florida produce are being expected to pull rates higher.
Sacramento to Salt Lake City jumped 40 cents to $2.35/mile, possibly due to trouble getting into Denver. In the Midwest, two lanes from Grand Rapids MI rebounded from the previous week:
—Grand Rapids to Madison WI increased 22 cents to $2.58/mile
—Grand Rapids to Atlanta added 21 cents to $2.71/mile
Many of the prior week’s gainers came back to earth, including Elizabeth NJ to Boston (down 38 cents to $3.81/mile) and Philadelphia to Miami (off 22 cents to $1.96/mile).
Spot van volumes remain ahead of March 2018 levels, but so far in March 2019 demand for trucks is no better than it was in February 2019. Capacity is abundant and spot van rates are drifting: On DAT’s top 100 van lanes the week ending March 16, pricing fell on 53 and rose on 36. Eleven lanes were neutral.
With freight markets in the Midwest struggling with unusual weather, there was a ripple effect for supply chains. For instance, the challenge of getting freight into Denver the week ending March 16 led to an 18-cent rise in the average rate from Seattle to Salt Lake City ($1.90/mile). On the other hand, the extra West Coast trucks in SLC caused rates on the lane from there to Stockton CA to decline.
Expect a boost in flatbed pricing as the demand to move heavy machinery and construction materials into the region picks up. High demand for flatbeds in the coming weeks may cause van availability to tighten on some lanes.
For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit www.dat.com/trendlines.