Spot market freight volume declined seasonally in January, falling 11% from an atypical December high, according to the DAT North American Freight Index.
Volume also plummeted 27% compared to the same time in 2014. It was the first year-over-year decline in 19 months for the index that measures truckload freight demand and capacity.
Compared to December 2014, freight volume by equipment type in January fell 18% for vans, 3.1% for flatbeds, and 2.5% for refrigerated trailers. Truckload freight rates on the spot market drifted down 3.6% for vans and 3.1% for reefers, while the average flatbed rate was unchanged.
When January is compared to the same month in 2014 freight volume by equipment type declined 27% for vans, 35% for flatbeds, and 0.7% for reefers. These drops were due to “extraordinary market conditions” in January 2014, according to DAT.
In contrast, rates trended up, with vas increasing the most of the three equipment types, 15%, followed by flatbeds adding 7.9% and reefer rates gaining 3.8%, year-over-year. Monthly average van rates have increased year over year for 19th consecutive month, while flatbed and reefer rates have trended up every month since the end of 2013.
Rates cited are for line haul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which declined on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the DAT Network of load boards in the United States and Canada.