Van rates opened 2017 higher than they did 2016, and at $1.77 per mile, the national average van rate was higher than the December average.
Prices were down in pretty much every major van market, though, when compared to the highs we saw the past couple of weeks.
At once, noted DAT’s Ken Harper with this week’s update, owner-operators might be right to be expressing optimism about their business prospects for 2017. “With the economy picking up,” he says, “and economic forecasts showing growth, it should (could?) be a very good year for spot freight. We’ll see.”
Van hot markets: The markets where rates didn’t fall were mostly the ones that weren’t part of the surge at the end of 2016: Denver and Stockton, Calif.
Allentown, Pa., was down last week, but the average outbound rate there is still 4 percent higher than it was a month ago. On the upside, volumes were up in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston and Memphis. Winter weather will likely play a role this week.
Not so hot: The biggest declines were in the Midwest and West Coast. Typically good lanes out of Chicago took a hit: The lane to Columbus, Ohio, fell 36 cents to an average of $2.42 per mile, and van loads going from Chicago to Denver paid 24 cents less at $2.26 per mile. It was the same story for outbound lanes from Columbus. The lanes to Allentown, Buffalo and Atlanta were all down more than 20 cents. Out West, Los Angeles to Denver was down to $2.22 per mile. Winter storms are also making things difficult in the Pacific Northwest.
Hot reefer markets: Load counts kept climbing in the border market of Nogales, Ariz., with Mexican imports boosting reefer volumes. Prices were down on most of the major reefer lanes last week, save for one. Houston will be playing host to the Super Bowl in a little less than a month, and they’re stocking up on beer from Denver. (“We’re not making this up,” Harper says.) Reefer rates on the Denver to Houston lane rose 33 cents to $1.95 per mile.
Not so hot: There were lots of sharp declines last week now that the end-of-year freight push is over. For example, Chicago to Denver plunged 86 cents to $2.11 per mile. Several other short-term spikes also fizzled out. The East Coast lanes from Miami to Baltimore and Lakeland, Fla., to Baltimore were back down to pre-Christmas levels. Same story for reefer loads going from Dallas to Phoenix or Elizabeth, N.J., to Boston.