Spot truckload rates continued a seasonal decline during the week ending August 4, as the overall number of loads posted on DAT load boards fell 0.7% and capacity dipped 1.3%, according to a weekly report from the load-matching provider.

The national average van rate slipped 6 cents to $2.24/mile, the flatbed rate fell 3 cents to $2.75/mile, and the refrigerated rate was 8 cents lower at $2.54/mile compared to the previous week. 

The number of available van and reefer loads on the DAT network both increased, however, reflecting strength in the spot market for late July and early August. The $2.24/mile van rate equaled the monthly average for January, which was a record at that time. 

Van and reefer load-to-truck ratios also made slight gains while the flatbed ratio settled lower into a typical mid-summer pattern, albeit at an elevated level compared to previous years.

The number of available van loads increased 3% compared to the previous week while truck posts declined 1%. The national van load-to-truck ratio increased slightly to 7.1, and average outbound rates held steady in several key markets, with Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Allentown, Pennsylvania, down only 1 to 2 cents. On a lane-by-lane basis, rates involving Buffalo showed big gains. For instance, Chicago to Buffalo surged 33 cents to an average of $3.33/mile.

The number of reefer load posts increased 3% last week while truck posts dropped 4%. The load-to-truck ratio rose to 9.4, which is above the July average of 8.8. Reefer load counts were up sharply in California, Texas, and in the Midwest, while a disappointing lemon harvest in Mexico appears to be affecting shipments coming across the border at Nogales, Arizona.

The number of flatbed load posts was down 7% while truck posts increased 1% compared to the previous week, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to drop to 36.4. That's still a strong number, DAT notes, adding that the flatbed ratio was 14.4 in July 2016 and 37 in July 2017.