Spot market at end of month: Volumes slid, but port market-driven demand buoys averages

Updated Aug 7, 2021

The number of available loads on the truckload spot market has held relatively steady over the course of the last week, and rates remained elevated over historical levels for this time of year. That’s according to DAT Freight & Analytics, operator of the DAT Load Board network.  

The national averages are buoyed by high demand in Southern California and other large port markets, though looked at for the entire month, July volumes declined compared to June, the busiest spot market month on record.

Available van, refrigerated and flatbed loads on the DAT network fell 17.1% compared to June, and posted trucks also dropped 6.6%.

The port freight surge out West

Ships continue to bunch up outside the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, where about one-third of all container imports arrive. The average outbound van rate from Los Angeles was $3.70 per mile last week and Los Angeles to Phoenix, a key lane for imported e-commerce freight, hit $4.61 a mile. 

Dry van load-post volumes increased slightly and equipment posts remained flat last week, and the national average van load-to-truck ratio was virtually unchanged at 6.0. The average van rate was $2.73 per mile, matching the average for July. In DAT’s top 100 van freight markets by volume, the number of loads moved increased 2.5% last week.

Los Angeles to Chicago averaged $3.13 per mile for spot van freight and the number of loads moved on the lane has soared 39.9% in the last four weeks. An ongoing container chassis sourcing issue has been exacerbated by higher-than-normal container dwell times for local container delivery and intermodal rail cars to move containers east. All of this is contributing to higher spot market truckload volumes off the West Coast as shippers struggle with reduced intermodal capacity on freight lanes to congested inland destinations. The number of reefer loads rose 4% last week while truck posts declined 1%. The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio inched up from 12.8 to 13.5 last week and the national average spot reefer rate rose 1.7% to an average of $3.15 per mile (rates include a fuel surcharge). Van load-to-truck was flat at 6.The number of reefer loads rose 4% last week while truck posts declined 1%. The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio inched up from 12.8 to 13.5 last week and the national average spot reefer rate rose 1.7% to an average of $3.15 per mile (rates include a fuel surcharge). Van load-to-truck was flat at 6.

The national average spot flatbed rate held at $3/mile last week, 11 cents less than the July average. Flatbed load-post volumes fell 2% week over week and are now down 4% over the last month. Capacity tightened with an 8% decrease in equipment posts compared to the previous week, which pushed the flatbed load-to-truck ratio higher from 44.6 to 47.4.

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