Four-week spot market freight rates for vans, flatbeds and reefers, left-to-right. Graphic: DAT Solutions

Four-week spot market freight rates for vans, flatbeds and reefers, left-to-right. Graphic: DAT Solutions

Spot market freight rates posted declines as Christmas approached, according to numbers from the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

The biggest drop was 0.9% in the flatbed sector Dec. 14 through Dec. 20 compared to the previous seven days, for an average of $2.30 per mile. This is its lowest level out of the last four weeks, but rates have remained strong for flatbeds this month in what is typically a slow season, according to DAT.

Van freight posted a 0.5% drop in rates for an average of $2.08 per mile, while reefer rates fell 0.4% for an average of $2.34 per mile. DAT said both drops were due to a decline in the fuel surcharge, as the linehaul portion of the rates were unchanged.

Rates also fell as the spot market freight volume fell 2.6%, a greater margin than the 0.8% decline in spot market truck capacity.

Falling rates also translated into mixed load-to-truck ratios, with the ratio actually improving 1.1% for flatbeds, nudging it higher to 13.9 loads per truck, due to a 6.1% decline in flatbed truck capacity. The reefer ratio fell just 0.5% to 9.6 loads per truck, while the van load to truck ratio dropped 2.1% to 3.4 loads per truck, the latter still showing unusually strong demand for the time of the year.

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