DAT points to steady spot truckload rates

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor ·

December 17, 2020

Data issued this week by Portland, Oregon-based freight marketplace platform and information provider DAT pointed to mixed spot truckload freight signals.

The firm reported that spot truckload freight postings, for the week ending December 13, fell 15%, and trucks available on the spot market rose 13%, which it said serves as an indication that spot truckload capacity is loosening up in advance of Christmas.

On the pricing front, DAT explained that the pairing of less freight and a higher number of trucks, for this period, were largely flat on a sequential basis, including:

  • Van: $2.48 per mile, 4 cents higher than November
  • Flatbed: $2.44 per mile, 1 cent higher than the November average
  • Refrigerated: $2.66 per mile, 3 cents lower than November

Looking at specific markets, DAT said that the number of loads that moved on its top 100 van lanes by volume rose 24.2%, from the week ending December 6 to the week ending December 13, with the national average spot truckload rate down on 62 of the top 100 lanes, neutral rates on 19 lanes and gains on the final 19 lanes. And DAT said that eight of the top 10 van markets saw double-digit volume gains and lower average outbound rates, from week to week.

In a recent interview, DAT Chief of Analytics Ken Adamo said that over the last few months there has been what he called a “slide” down the routing guide, with shippers not seeing an immense amount of freight falling down the routing guide, but instead seeing much higher percentages slip out from the first and second carrier calls, which can really inflate rates.

“And we are definitely seeing a higher percentage [of freight] move to the spot market,” he said. “The numbers are not binary, not all freight goes to the spot market. It is typically 10%-12% spot. The fact that it is going even 20-25% spot for some shippers now is impactful. One reason for that is they are not used to shipping that much spot volume, as spot rates are up substantially both annually and sequentially and have been on a tear since the late May, early June timeframe. Shippers are moving more freight at a higher price, and that is really impacting their budgets.”

Adamo also observed that a lot of shippers are in RFPs right now, as they delayed them from the first and second quarters, due to the pandemic, adding that many shippers thought that rates might come back down and did not want to go out to bid during a peak rate period and were forced to go out to bid in the fourth quarter, which he said is very abnormal, especially for retail-driven shippers.    

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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