Freight availability on the spot market was 50% higher in June compared to the same month the previous year, continuing a pattern of elevated activity in 2014, according to the DAT North American Freight Index, a measure of truckload freight demand and capacity in the United States and Canada.
The year-over-year increase was reflected in all three major equipment types: van loads grew 39%, refrigerated ("reefer") freight was up 51%, and flatbed volume rose 69%.
Demand was driven by robust seasonal fruit and vegetable harvests combined with a surge of manufacturing and construction-related freight.
Greater demand and constrained capacity contributed to an increase in truckload rates in June. Compared to June 2013, the national average rate was up 15% for vans, 10% for reefers, and 14% for flatbeds.
Volumes, rates increase month-over-month
Compared to May 2014, spot freight volume increased 9.8%. Van and reefer freight each were up 20%, while flatbed freight volume gained 3.7%. Spot truckload rate increases were more modest: the average van rate rose 7.4%, reefers increased 6.0%, and flatbeds saw a 4.4% increase compared to the previous month.
Several factors appear to have contributed to record-high volume and rates on the spot truckload market this year, including disruptive weather, an improved economy, and seasonal fluctuations of freight and capacity. As a result, shippers have increasingly relied on third-party logistics (3PL) providers to meet the needs caused by the growing volume of exception freight.
Second quarter volume increased overall by 4.9% compared to Q1, reflecting a typical seasonal pattern.