DAT reports gains in spot TL rates and volumes, from June to July, while tariff concerns linger

July spot truckload freight volumes and rates saw gains from June to July, according to the most recent edition of the DAT Truckload Freight Volume Index, by Portland, Oregon-based freight marketplace platform and information provider DAT

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July spot truckload freight volumes and rates saw gains from June to July, according to the most recent edition of the DAT Truckload Freight Volume Index, 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 6.8% increase in shipments of dry van freight from June to July;
  • the national van rate, at $1.84 (and includes fuel surcharges), slipped five cents from June, but marked the second highest monthly average for vans going back to March;
  • the national average van rate was down 43 cents annually compared to the historic levels set in July 2018, despite July 2019 volume was up 12% annually;
  • an 8.7% increase in refrigerated (reefer) volumes from June to July, with reefer rates, at an average of $2.19 per mile, down 6 cents compared to June while still marking the highest average in a month since February;
  • the July 2019 reefer average was down 41 cents annually, while volumes were up 12%; and
  • flatbed volume headed up 6.6% from June to July, while the national average flatbed rate was down to $2.27, which was 3 cents off compared to June and 50 cents below July 2018’s average, while flatbed volume was up 18%

“July often marks the beginning of a downward turn for truckload rates,” Peggy Dorf DAT Market Analyst said in a statement. “That has less to do with volume than the fact that, after the close of Q2 and the end of the Fourth of July holiday, shippers feel less urgency to get deliveries made by a specific date. There was an uptick in activity at the end of July, and that could carry over into August. Shippers may rush to move imports ahead of the new tariffs, which could disrupt what would normally be the summer doldrums for pricing.”

Dorf added that truckload pricing followed normal seasonal patterns in July, despite uncertainty in some segments of the economy. And she also said that moving forward, the new tariffs are a wild card, on top of the potential risks to supply chain operations during hurricane season.

In a recent interview with LM, Dorf said that 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 the caveat 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 · Rates · Spot Market · Truckload · volume · All Topics
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