Spot truckload posts and rates are gaining traction, reports DAT

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor · June 24, 2020

Truckload spot market rates saw gains for the week of June 22, according to data recently issued by DAT Freight & Analytics, a subsidiary of Roper Technologies and operator of an online marketplace for spot market truckload freight, in its DAT Spot Truckload Trendlines.

DAT reported that posted loads, for the week, headed up 15.6%, following a slower trajectory the previous week, with spot van and refrigerated rates regaining momentum that had been building up in previous weeks. And the firm added that there was a 3.5% decline for the number of available trucks on the DAT network, with national average spot van and reefer line-haul rates, minus a fuel price adjustment, at higher levels than they were prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February.

The national monthly average van spot rates through June 22, were: Van: $1.76 per mile, 16 cents higher than the May average; Flatbed: $2.04 per mile, 14 cents higher than May; and Reefer: $2.11 per mile, 9 cents higher than May.

DAT officials explained that those are “rolling averages for the month,” and current rates are trending higher. For comparison’s sake, it highlighted how on June 1, the van spot rate was $1.72 a mile, the flatbed rate was $1.98, and the reefer rate was $2.08.

What’s more, DAT noted that following the urgent orders, or restocking of retail goods, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in early March, there has been a return to normal seasonal patterns and trends for load posts, which are now more in line with 2019 levels. And it added that the current loads per truck ratio—at 3.6—is ahead of June 2019’s average.

For the top 100 DAT van lanes by volume, the firm said that there were only declines for average rates on11 lanes, with the New Orleans to Dallas lane down 15 cents to $1.68 per mile, on the heels of a recent spike due to Tropical Storm Cristobal.

For the refrigerated (reefer) market, DAT reported that the national average reefer load-to-truck ratio rose to 5.4, which was up from 4.3, for the week of June 15, with steady volumes, due to more shipments of domestic produce balancing out a decline in imports from Mexico, Canada, and other locales.

In a recent interview, Ken, Adamo, DAT Chief of Analytics, explained that current spot market activity levels are in line with where things were in 2019, 2015, and 2017.

“It is kind of that seasonal peak,” he said. “The thing is the year plays out quite differently from here on out. 2019 and 2015 each sort of crested out of the produce and spring shipping season and had fairly mediocre second halves of the year. 2019 shot out of a cannon, and in 2017 Hurricane Harvey pretty much lit things on fire to end the year. And 2018, as we all know, from a rate perspective, was a landmark year. It is good to see things recover on the reefer and dry van side to pre-COVID-19 levels, where we were sitting before. What will be interesting to see is how bullish are retailers and wholesalers heading into the fall season. I think that will play a lot into what the rate picture looks like over the third and fourth quarter.”

June 24, 2020