Spot Freight Rates Hold, Freight Availability Down Slightly

August 27, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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The summer doldrums appear to have kicked in on the spot freight market, with rates barely moving for the second straight week, according to the freight matching service provider DAT.

The average rate for van ($2 per mile) and reefers ($2.28 per mile) are unchanged for Aug. 17 through Aug. 23 compared to the previous seven days. This is the third straight week vans have been unchanged, although reefer rates were 9 cents higher than the same time a year ago.

The average rate for flatbeds fell by 0.4% to $2.44 per mile, despite strong demand and tight truck capacity, but still tying its best performance out of the last four-weeks.

Overall freight availability fell 1.4% for the period while truck capacity was nearly unchanged. This led to load-to-truck ratios falling 2% for vans to 3.1 to 1, with flatbeds dropping 3.3% to 35.3 to 1. In contrast, the load-to-truck ratio for reefers increased 7.3% to a seasonal high of 10.3 to 1, due to a 4.8% increase in freight availability in the sector and truck capacity shrinking 2.4%.

DAT Analyst Mark Montague noted recently in the company’s Freight Talk Blog that the freight transportation business is currently in a “transitional season." Demand is shifting from one part of the country to another, and certain types of cargo levels are falling with others are rising. However, the trend for the fourth quarter retail season is strong, he said.

Montague noted for vans, freight availability has been cooling in Southeastern hubs, but picking up in some northern areas such as Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Cleveland and Green Bay, while the California drought has suppressed freight availability for reefers.

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