Fleet Management

Spot Market Load Availability Falls as Rates Barely Move

November 02, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Image: DAT
Image: DAT

While the number of available spot market loads fell and rates showed only little improvement in the final week of October, freight volume during the month was better than a year ago, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

The number of available spot market loads fell 3.6% for the week ending Oct. 29 compared to the previous week as the number of available trucks declined 1.2%.

Preliminary numbers show that for the month of October, load availability rose 2.8% and truck capacity was up 3.4% compared to September.

However, freight rates did not catch up to the previous year's highs, with week-over-week, average rates slipping 1 cent for vans to $1.65 per mile. Reefers held firm at an average of $1.90 per mile while flatbeds increased 1 cent to an average of $1.92 per mile. All rates include fuel surcharges.

Load-to-truck ratios were mixed, with reefers increasing 2% to 6 to 1. Vans were unchanged at 2.7 to 1 while flatbeds declined 8% to 14.4 to 1.

Van load availability and truck posts both slipped 1%, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to be unchanged.

Rates barely moved on a majority of lanes, but volumes rose significantly in Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles as van freight volume continued to gain from west to east. Rates fell in major Northeast markets.

Top van markets by region:

  • West: Los Angeles, $2.07 per mile, up 2 cents
  • South Central: Dallas, $1.51 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Midwest: Chicago, $2.01 per mile, up 1 cent
  • Northeast: Allentown, $1.95 per mile, down 2 cents
  • Southeast: Charlotte, $1.90 per mile, up 3 cents after falling sharply in the previous week following the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

Reefer load posts declined less than 1% last week, while truck posts were down 2.5%. Reefer volumes in California slumped, which hurt the national picture last week. There was much more regional movement with refrigerated freight than there was with van freight, evidence of a pre-Thanksgiving push, according to DAT.

Key reefer lanes from last week:

  • Ontario, California-Phoenix rebounded 20 cents to an average of $3.03 per mile
  • Green Bay-Des Moines added 20 cents to an average of $1.93 per mile
  • Twin Falls-Los Angeles paid an average of $1.97 per mile, 20 cents better than the previous week.
  • Atlanta-Lakeland, Florida., was off 11 cents to $2.76 per mile

It’s also worth noting there’s a lot of poultry shipping out of northern Georgia this time of year, so those factors combined led to a 24-cent drop on the lane from Elizabeth, New Jersey-Atlanta, which paid $1.54 per mile last week.

Meantime, in the flatbed sector, load posts declined 8% last week, as truck posts increased less than 1%. However, preliminary numbers show the flatbed load-to-truck ratio increased 47% in October compared to the same time a year ago.

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