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Spot truckload rates, demand for trucks soften after July 4

| July 15, 2021

DAT spot truckload market summary, week of July 11

The weeks leading up to Independence Day typically mark an annual peak in spot truckload freight volume and rates following a rush to move goods ahead of the close of June and the July 4 holiday. While last year was an exception, 2021 is starting to follow a more typical pattern albeit at elevated levels: spot rates for van, refrigerated and flatbed freight are on average 70 cents per mile higher than at this time in 2020 and nearly 76 cents higher than the five-year post-July 4 average.

The number of available dry van loads on the spot market was down 17% during the week ending July 11, in line with expectations given the holiday-shortened workweek, said DAT Freight & Analytics, which operates the industry’s largest load board network.

Van equipment posts also declined as truckers took time off for the holiday. The national average van load-to-truck ratio narrowed from 6.7 to 6.1 and the national monthly average van rate through July 11 was $2.75 per mile, 8 cents higher than June. Contract van rates are on the rise, with new routing-guide rates up 7% in the two weeks ending July 1 compared to the prior two-week period. The average contract van rate is now 37 cents higher than this time last year.

The national average spot reefer rate through July 11 was $3.18 per mile, 9 cents higher than the June average. The number of available reefer loads fell 17% compared to the previous week and, with 2% fewer equipment posts, the national average reefer load-to-truck ratio edged down from 14.2 to 12.7. Demand for trucks is expected to ease in the coming months: between July 4 and Thanksgiving, weekly truckload volumes of produce typically decline an average of 21%, which translates to carriers hauling 7,300 fewer truckloads per week by the end of November.

With fewer load and equipment posts last week, the national average flatbed load-to-truck ratio fell from 49.7 to 44.1. The average spot flatbed rate slipped to $3.12 a mile through July 11, down from $3.15 in June.

Lanes to watch:

– The average reefer rate from Atlanta to Chicago, a 716-mile run, has nearly doubled in the last year and is $1.70 a mile higher than the contract rate, which is highly unusual and partly reflective of weak pricing in the opposite direction.

– Rates from Los Angeles to Las Vegas held steady at an average of $6.12 a mile last week but the return leg jumped 25 cents to $5.23. That’s an average of $5.40 a mile for the 540-mile round trip.

– The average van rate from Atlanta to Philadelphia surged last week, increasing by 55 cents to $4.23 a mile. That’s up $1.86 since January. Rates in the opposite direction are down an average of 52 cents during the same period.

National average spot rates are derived from DAT RateView and include only over-the-road lanes with lengths of haul of 250 miles or more. Spot rates represent the payments made to carriers by freight brokers, third-party logistics providers and other transportation buyers. DAT operates the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America. Shippers, transportation brokers, motor carriers, news organizations and industry analysts rely on DAT for market trends and data insights derived from 249 million freight matches and $110 billion in annual market transactions. Dat.com. Source: DAT Freight & Analytics, dat.com/trendlines

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