Spot Truckload Freight Rates Slip But Stay High

November 1, 2017

By Evan Lockridge

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Graphic: DAT
Graphic: DAT

The availability of spot truckload freight dipped 1.8% while the number of trucks posted fell 2.4% during the week ending Oct. 28, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

National average spot van and reefer rates declined for the third week in a row while the flatbed rate held steady after nearly two months of steady gains. Rates remain elevated for this time of year for all three equipment types:

  • Van: $2.03 per mile, down 1 cent from last week
  • Flatbed: $2.34 per mile, unchanged from week before
  • Reefer: $2.36 per mile, down 1 cent from last week

Spot truckload rates may pick up before Thanksgiving, as retail sales are projected to grow by 6% this holiday season and demand for capacity is solid, according to the freight matching provider.

Volumes for the top van markets rebounded 5% last week as shippers moved freight out the door before month’s end. Nationally, van load posts increased 1% and truck posts declined 3%, which caused the van load-to-truck ratio to increase from 5.4 to 5.9 loads per truck. In line with seasonal expectations during October, van load-to-truck ratios have declined since hitting a peak of 7.0 loads per truck during the final week of September.

Several key van lanes showed solid rates, including Dallas-Houston, $2.62 per mile, up 8 cents from last week, and Atlanta-Lakeland, Florida, $3.02 per mile, up 4 cents from the week before.

Reefer load posts held steady and truck posts declined 2%, causing the load-to-truck ratio to increase 1% to 9.7 loads per truck. The reefer load-to-truck ratio has fallen after hitting the highest average ratio in years in late September before turning upward again last week.

Flatbed load posts declined 6% and truck posts declined 2%, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to slip to 35.9 loads per truck, still a high ratio. After hitting the highest load-to-truck ratio in years during the last week of September, 50.2 loads per truck, the flatbed ratio has generally eased off in October.

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