With spot truckload freight volumes failing to meet expectations last month, DAT Solutions is looking to June to see if volumes from May were simply delayed.
“After a lackluster May, June is shaping up to be a pivotal month for trucking,” said DAT Senior Industry Analyst Mark Montague in a news release. “We will know soon whether the volumes we expected in May were simply delayed. If so, the pent-up demand could boost seasonal volumes at the close of Q2.”
The number of full-truckload van loads dropped 12% in May compared to April, according to the DAT Truckload Volume Index, while van load counts were down 10% compared to the previous year. Van trailers haul approximately 70% of all truckload freight.
“Simply put, May was a disappointment in terms of load counts,” said Montague. “We’re accustomed to seeing higher volumes of retail goods, fresh produce, construction materials, and other seasonal spot truckload freight moving through supply chains at this time of year.”
The combination of shaky trade agreements and decreased imports from China seemed to reduce truckload demand. At the same time, extreme weather, flooding, and tornadoes also affected the amount of freight moved in many parts of the country.
The weather further hindered agriculture production due to supply chains disruption, with a number of harvests either ruined or delayed. This resulted in refrigerated volumes falling 8.3% month over month and dropping 12% year over year.
Flatbed load volume, which includes heavy machinery and construction material, dropped 9.3% month over month and 3.1% year over year.
Spot truckload rates also continued to track well below last year’s record levels. Compared to April, the national average spot van rate was virtually unchanged at $1.80 per mile including fuel surcharge. That’s 35 cents below the average for May 2018. The average reefer rate was $2.15 per mile, 1 cent higher than April and 38 cents lower than May 2018. The flatbed rate averaged $2.27 per mile, down 5 cents compared to April and 45 cents lower year over year.