The availability of truckload freight on the spot market hit a lull during the week ending July 18 compared to the previous week, leading to a decline in rates and load-to-truck ratios in all three equipment types, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The average rate for vans dropped 1.1% to $1.85 per mile last week as van load availability fell 15%. The van load-to-truck ratio slid, resulting in 1.7 available van loads for every truck posted on the DAT network, a 16% decline. Available van capacity increased a slight 1.4%.

Average outbound spot van rates declined in key markets across much of the country, including Los Angeles, where the average outbound rate fell 3 cents to $2.32 per mile; Atlanta, down 6 cents to $1.92; Charlotte, down 5 cents to $2.28; Philadelphia, down 2 cents to $1.74; and Houston, down 2 cents to $1.63.

Meantime, the volume of refrigerated load posts fell 20% last week and while truck posts increased 1.3%, yielding a 21% decline in the national average reefer load-to-truck ratio. The ratio of 3.9 loads per truck was accompanied by a near 1% drop in the average reefer rate, which slipped to $2.17 per mile.

The number of flatbed load posts decreased 10.7% while truck posts increased 9.3%, pushing the load-to-truck ratio down 18% to 11.6 flatbed loads per truck. All this caused the national average flatbed rate to dip 0.5% to $2.15 per mile.

All reported rates include fuel surcharges as the national average price of diesel declined 3 cents to $2.78 last week.

The drop in spot freight rates is not that surprising for this time of the year, according to DAT Analyst Mark Montague, but the causes of it are a bit of mystery. The good news, he said, is that July will soon be over with the retail freight season soon the way, which should lead to better rates.

You can read more about this in his blog on the DAT website,