Fleet Management

Spot Freight Rates Move Little; Van, Flatbed Ratios Rise

November 30, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Spot market truckload freight rates during the Thanksgiving holiday week remained in the same fairly narrow range they have been for the past month, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

With shippers on a shorter workweek and the roads full of travelers and shoppers, the number of available loads fell 30% as truck capacity dropped 28% during the week ending Nov. 26 compared to the previous seven days. The week-over-week declines in available loads and trucks are in line with expectations given the shorter workweek, according to DAT.

The week began with a flurry of load board activity, but it slowed by Wednesday afternoon ahead of the extended weekend. Van and flatbed load-to-truck ratios both increased 1% during the week to 2.9 to 1 and 14.8 to 1, respectively. The refrigerated load-to-truck ratio declined 9% to 6 to 1.

Rates rose on high-traffic lanes but backhaul lanes lost traction, so adjustments to the national averages were small. Reefers increased 1 cent to $1.95 per mile. In contrast, vans and flatbeds posted drops of 1 cent and 2 cents, respectively, with vans averaging $1.66 per mile and flatbeds at $1.89 per mile

The rates include fuel surcharges. The average price of on-highway diesel was unchanged compared to the previous week at $2.42 per gallon.

Van load posts declined 27% and truck posts fell 28% week over week, in line with expectations for a short week. Also, solid rates in key regional markets helped make up for weaker backhaul rates, including

  • Chicago, $2.11 per mile, up 5 cents
  • Dallas, $1.55 per mile, up 2 cents
  • Charlotte, $1.97 per mile, up 5 cents
  • Buffalo, New York, $1.99 per mile, up 1 cent
  • Los Angeles, $2.15 per mile, up 3 cents

Average outbound van rates increased in three major Southeast markets last week. The rate rose 7 cents in Atlanta to $1.94 per mile, 5 cents in Charlotte at $1.97 per mile and 3 cents in Memphis, registering $1.92 per mile.

In the reefer market load posts dropped 29% last week and truck posts fell 22%, as expected due to the shorter workweek.

Reefer rates out of Florida are never great this time of year but truckers got an off-season boost, according to DAT. Average rates jumped 15 cents coming out of Miami to an atypical $1.64 per mile while rates from Lakeland gained 8 cents to $1.24 per mile.

Other reefer lanes with notable gains include:

  • Dallas-Houston, $2.44 per mile, up 16 cents
  • Dallas-Phoenix, $1.25 per mile, up 6 cents
  • Ontario, California-Phoenix, $2.97 per mile, up 5 cents

Flatbed load posts declined 33.7% and truck posts fell 34.3%, causing the load-to-truck ratio to increase 1% to 14.8 loads per truck. This also compares to a ratio of 14.1 to 1 for the first week of November.

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