Spot truckload rates declined again during the week ending July 28, as the overall number of loads posted on DAT load boards fell 4.2% and capacity increased 0.5%, but the spot freight market is still strong compared to historical averages.
National average spot freight rates dropped. The van rate fell 3 cents to $2.30/mile, the refrigerated rate dropped 3 cents to $2.62/mile, and the flatbed fell 1 cent to $2.78/mile. However, DAT notes, these rates are just pennies lower than June's record highs, and the volume of available freight is actually running slightly ahead of June’s weekly averages.
Contract van rates are the highest ever, DAT reports, but unlike spot rates, average pricing on longer-term, shipper-to-carrier contracts continued to rise in July. When the average fuel surcharge is added, contract carriers are getting $2.36 per mile, while spot market transactions paid $2.29 to the truck.
In the van market, the number of available trucks increased 1% compared to the previous week while load posts declined 3%. These conditions pushed the national van load-to-truck ratio down slightly to 6.9.
Prices softened in several van markets:
• Los Angeles: $2.80/mile, down 6 cents
• Memphis: $2.77/mile, down 13 cents
• Atlanta: $2.47, down 11 cents
• Houston: $2.19/mile, down 6 cents
Capacity is beginning to loosen up in the refrigerated or “reefer” market. Load posts on DAT load boards held steady while truck posts dropped 1%. The reefer ratio rose to 8.4 loads per truck, which is 36% lower than the June average of 13.1. The national average rate for reefers is 4 cents below the June average but still high compared to previous years. Simply put, rates are falling from an all-time high in June, DAT says.
The national load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds fell for the seventh straight week at sat at 39.5. Load posts were down 9% while truck posts were unchanged.
One market to watch, DAT says, is Texas, where steel tariffs and challenges securing specialty pipe, which is manufactured almost entirely of overseas steel, may be having an effect on flatbed load availability. Overall, flatbed pricing remains volatile with large weekly swings in both directions.
Last week the national load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds was 39:1. That's high, but just a few weeks ago the ratio was above 100:1. Outbound markets with double-digit price increases included Jacksonville, Florida, Roanoke, Virginia, and Las Vegas. Outbound prices slipped lower for flatbeds in Baltimore and Savannah, which could be related to port traffic.