The latter half of 2013 saw unusually strong spot truckload rates, according to DAT Trendlines, a composite of the DAT network of load boards. This surprised DAT senior rate analyst Mark Montague.
"Van rates rose in July instead of dropping, as is typical for the season,” he noted. “Even as freight volume finally tapered off after Thanksgiving, rates remained high. During Christmas week, van rates rose even further. The national average hit a peak of $1.95 per mile in the last full week of the year. I don't think I've ever seen that before, and I've been a transportation pricing analyst for decades."
Spot truckload rates across all equipment types climbed during the week ending Dec. 28, according to the report. At $1.95 per mile (including fuel surcharge), the average spot rate for van freight increased 1 cent and was 7 cents higher than the average rate in November.
The number of available dry van loads fell 47.8%, which capacity dropped 33.8%. That pushed the load-to-truck ratio down 21.2% to 3.3 compared to 4.2 the prior week. Load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck posted on the DAT network of load boards.
The national average flatbed rate gained 4 cents at the end of December to $2.15 per mile. Nationally, demand for flatbed loads fell 41.9% while capacity dropped 32.9%. That pushed the load-to-truck ratio down 13.4% to 13.5.
The national average reefer rate climbed 3 cents to $2.12 per mile. Strong rates outbound from Florida and Southern California, along with challenging weather conditions, contributed to the elevated national average. Available loads for reefers fell 37% over the prior week, while reefer capacity dropped 32%. That caused the load-to-truck ratio to decline 7.4% to 11.3 last week.
The below chart depicts national average spot market (“broker buy”) rates during the past four weeks. Rates are derived from DAT RateView and the DAT Network of load boards.