While national average rates held steady for vans, reefers and flatbeds last week, according to DAT, an increase in the load-to-truck ratios for vans and reefers particularly indicates that rates on average could rise this week as the second quarter ends today and a holiday weekend begins.
Flatbed, too, showed hot markets around the nation, where load-to-truck ratios on DAT Load Boards trucked well above average. Compare this map to that shown in our last flatbed update, and you’ll see that demand has improved since early June in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest states. Flatbed freight is also strong in the Southeast. The biggest improvement in June volume and rates came from Tampa, Fla., followed by Savannah. Rates in Fort Worth are rebounding now from a downturn earlier in the month, but Rock Island, Ill., outbound rates are declining, in what’s usually a busy month for farm equipment and related freight. Overall, DAT says, flatbed traffic has been subdued this year, after the end of the fracking boom. Rates went up in the first half of June for flatbeds, then dropped back in the second half of the month, to yield a stable average rate compared to May.
Though load-to-truck ratios were up last week, van freight volume was quieter than the prior week. The current week should play out better given end-of-quarter dynamics typically at play and the coming holiday weekend. Demand continues strongest in the Southern band of states, from coast to coast. Hot Markets include Southeastern freight hubs like Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis, plus Buffalo N.Y. Freight is strong in the Los Angeles area, too, but wildfires have led to some highway closures in recent weeks, so check road conditions before you go in.
The three-day turn between Charlotte and Buffalo saw rates rise in both directions between to an average $1.95/mile on that 1,300-mile roundtrip. The outbound leg from Charlotte is averaging best currently. The return is ripe for splitting with two loads.
You have lots of choices leaving Buffalo for a third leg, including destinations in Virginia and Maryland. For an example, a load from Buffalo to Baltimore, then Baltimore back to Charlotte, based on last week’s averages, would add just 126 miles but you make 15 cents more per mile for all miles. This scenario adds $460 to your trip in total, and could help fill out a third day of travel. Examine the details in the chart below.