After a 16% drop the previous week, spot truckload freight volume fell another 8% during the week ending July 28, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.
More van and reefer loads out of California help halt a further decline, as spot loads of summer produce soaked up capacity and kept trucks busy with longer hauls. Nationally, the number of available trucks searching for loads dipped 1.6% compared to the previous week.
National average spot rates, through July 28
*Van: $1.85/mile, 4 cents lower than the June average
Reefer: $2.19/mile, 7 cents lower than June
Flatbed: $2.28/mile, 2 cents lower than June
Trend to watch: Flatbed volatility
Spot flatbed rates normally peak in Q2 but this year they hit their high mark around the July 4 holiday, when the national average was up near $2.30/mile. Rates have slipped since then and are now 2 cents lower than the June average.
Overcapacity remains the chief obstacle to pricing power. Trucks are readily available in many parts of the country as oil and gas activity, heavy-equipment moves, and new-home construction are growing at a slower pace than expected and manufacturers report letting raw materials inventories dwindle.
For now, flatbed remains the most volatile segment in the spot market.
Market to watch: California reefers
Spot reefer volume rose 4% last week and rates were higher on 35 of DAT’s top 72 reefer lanes, so there’s good news for ag haulers who have been eager to put a tough spring behind them.
One of the standout markets for summer produce is San Francisco, which includes Watsonville and Salinas, the “Salad Bowl of the World.” Last Friday, the load-to-truck ratio there hit 20.4; last week’s national average was 3.5.
Sacramento was solid as well. Compared to the previous week, spot reefer volume was up 12% and the average outbound rate was 8 cents higher at $2.86/mile.