Spot market gains in the last week — dry van, reefer at record volumes

| September 27, 2017

Spot market volumes hit an all-time high on the top 100 van lanes last week. And at $1.94 per mile, the national van rate is the highest it’s been in two and a half years – 16 cents higher than the overall August average.

Van load counts grew by 52 percent out of the Atlanta region, a combination of emergency freight heading into Florida, plus pent-up demand from shipments delayed by Hurricane Irma. Volumes also rose significantly in Charlotte, N.C., but rates came back down in both markets following the big spikes seen the week preceding.

Compare this map to last week’s van demand map to see the shifting picture in load-to-truck ratios by state on DAT boards.

Hot markets: Every major van market got a boost to outbound rates in September. Among major markets, prices rose the most out of Columbus, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y., which created some triangular-route opportunities that we’ll get into more below. In general, south and eastbound lanes paid more.

Not so hot: Dallas and Houston rates continued to level off, but outbound rates are still higher than they were before Hurricane Harvey hit, almost five weeks ago now.

Higher rates out of Buffalo create opportunities for triangular routes that can boost revenue, depending on your ability to adjust your scheduling. For example, if you’re already taking advantage of the high rates for van loads going from Columbus to Philadelphia, you can add a drop and pick in Buffalo on the way back to take advantage of generally high rates from Buffalo to Columbus. Columbus to Philly averaged a whopping $3.65 per mile last week. The return trip from Philly to Columbus averaged just $1.67, which still makes for a decent roundtrip. If you can do it in two days, go for it. If not, you might earn more with a load from Columbus to Philadelphia and then a second load from Philadelphia to Buffalo. The average van rate on that lane was $2.71 last week and climbing. The third and final leg, from Buffalo back to Columbus, averaged $3.39/mile. The triangle will add about 250 miles compared to the roundtrip, but it also boosts your revenue by nearly $1,400, based on the averages, so you’d make almost $3,900 on the three-day trip. That’s 51 percent higher than the original roundtrip revenue of $2,500. Of course, you can negotiate, and maybe you’ll do even better. These are the average rates for the past seven days, but every haul is different.

The national reefer rate average was also the highest it’s been in more than two years – $2.22 per mile. The nationwide picture is more mixed when compared to van trends, though.

Hot reefer markets: Apple season is driving rates up around Philadelphia and Grand Rapids, Mich. Among the eastern states, Pennsylvania is the second-biggest apple shipper, and forecasts for this year are for a nice increase over last year’s harvests. The lane from Philly to Columbus was already up 42 cents to an average of $2.40 per mile last week.

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Not so hot: Potato harvests have led to some high rates out of Green Bay, Wis., but prices dropped quite a bit on some high-volume lanes last week. Out West, the lane from Sacramento, Calif., to Denver lost 33 cents at $2.08 per mile, mostly due to stronger prices and volume out of Colorado.

Last week’s spot update:

Spot market tightens, with rates moving accordingly on several lanes for vans, reefers

Capacity has been tight on the spot market, volumes heavy. Nationally, there are more loads available than there were before Hurricane Harvey, and recovery efforts ...

 

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