The national average spot truckload van rate increased 1 cent to $2.10 per mile during the week ending Dec. 9, touching a three-year high, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

However, the overall number of available loads fell 10% while a 12% increase in posted spot market capacity sent load-to-truck ratios lower:

  • Van: 7.2 available loads per truck, down from 9.3 the week before
  • Refrigerated: 9.8 loads per truck, falling from a multi-year high
  • Flatbed: 27.9 loads per truck

Spot van volumes declined 14% and truck posts increased 12%. Western markets remain solid with the average outbound rate from Los Angeles up 4 cents to $2.74 per mile. Memphis, another key market for retail goods, added 3 cents to $2.40 per mile.

The national average refrigerated rate declined 3 cents to $2.40 per mile amid a lull in the movement of temperature-controlled goods before the holidays. Load posts fell 17% and truck posts increased 12% compared to the previous week. The average rate fell despite higher prices in several busy markets including Atlanta, $2.70 per mile, up 4 cents; Lakeland, Florida, $1.24 per mile, up 7 cents; and McAllen, Texas, $2.10 per mile, up 4 cents.

Spot prices for flatbed freight remain high for this time of year. The national average flatbed rate increased 1 cent to $2.31 per mile, just 3 cents lower than the peak in October when hurricane-relief supplies were rushing into the Southeast.

One number to watch is the price of on-highway diesel fuel. While the national average held steady last week at $2.92 per gallon, the figure is nearly 50 cents higher than this time last year. Spot truckload freight rates include a fuel surcharge.