DAT reports atypical spot truckload load and rate activity in May

May spot truckload freight volumes fell far short of typical seasonal trends, according to the most recent edition of the DAT Truckload Freight Volume Index.

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May spot truckload freight volumes fell far short of typical seasonal trends, according to the most recent edition of the DAT Truckload Freight Volume Index, which was issued this week by Portland, Oregon-based freight marketplace platform and information provider DAT, a subsidiary of Roper Technologies.

Looking at different segments, DAT reported the following readings, including:

  • a 12% decline in full-truckload van loads moved on the spot market from April to May;
  • a 10% annual decline in van load counts, which account for 70% of all truckload freight;
  • an 8.3% decline in refrigerated (reefer) volumes compared to April and a 12% annual decline;
  • a 9.3% sequential decline in flatbed load volume, including heavy machinery and construction material, and a 3.1% annual decrease;
  • the national average spot van rate, including a fuel surcharge, was flat at $1.80 per mile sequentially and down $0.35 annually;
  • the average reefer rate, at $2.15 per mile, was up $0.01 compared to April and down $0.38 annually; and
  • the average flatbed rate, at $2.27 per mile, was down $0.05 compared to April and up $0.45 annually

“Simply put, May was a disappointment in terms of load counts,” said DAT Senior Industry Analyst Mark Montague in a statement. “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. “After a lackluster May, June is shaping up to be a pivotal month for trucking. 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.”

Market sentiment early into 2019 indicated that industry stakeholders generally expected that volumes would drop, due to 2018 volumes being very high, but instead volumes remained consistently solid since 2018 during the first quarter of 2019, with Peggy Dorff, DAT market analyst, noting in a previous interview, that those numbers were a byproduct of capacity rather than additional freight availability even though it was not divided evenly among industry players.”

Dorff noted that while the first half of 2018 was extraordinary for spot market pricing, it began in earnest in late 2017 and into 2018, with contract activity kicking in four-to-six months after that.

“It can take a while for the contract market to catch up,” she said. “What we are seeing in the spot market as a leading indicator is that true spring activity keeps getting ‘postponed.’ Things always go up in June, but there is usually a little more life to the rate picture at this point. It is still positive for volumes, while rates are slower at this point.”   

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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Article Topics

DAT · Flatbed · refrigerated · Spot Market · Truckload · van loads · All Topics
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