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DAT: Truckload volumes rebound; spot prices hold

June 16, 2023
“This was the second-best May on record for van and reefer freight, according to our TVI,” DAT’s chief analyst says. “There was demand to move seasonal goods at a time when the truck supply on the spot market tightened.”

Truckload freight volumes rallied modestly in May and national average spot rates were stable for a second straight month, according to DAT Freight & Analytics.

The DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI), an indicator of loads moved during a given month, increased for van, refrigerated, and flatbed freight:

  • Van TVI: 220, up 5% from April
  • Reefer TVI: 164, a 5% increase month-over-month
  • Flatbed TVI: 258, up 7% from April

Month-over-month, the van and reefer TVI numbers rebounded from their lowest points since February 2021. Truckload volumes typically decline from April to May, but they increased for the first time since 2019.

“This was the second-best May on record for van and reefer freight, according to our TVI,” Ken Adamo, DAT chief of analytics, said in a news release. “There was demand to move seasonal goods at a time when the truck supply on the spot market tightened due to the International Roadcheck inspection event, the Memorial Day holiday, and general carrier attrition.”

Van and reefer load-to-truck ratios increase

National average van and reefer load-to-truck ratios rose in May:

  • Van ratio: 2.5, up from 1.9 in April, meaning there were 2.5 loads for every truck on the DAT One marketplace
  • Reefer ratio: 3.6, up from 2.7
  • Flatbed ratio: 11.7, down from 12.1

National average broker-to-carrier spot rates were steady compared to April:

  • Spot van rate: $2.05 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Spot reefer rate: $2.44 a mile, up 3 cents
  • Spot flatbed rate: $2.65 a mile, down 2 cents

Monthly national average line-haul rates, which subtract an amount equal to an average fuel surcharge, increased for the first time this year for all three equipment types. The average van line-haul rate was $1.61 a mile, up 2 cents compared to April; the reefer line-haul rate jumped 7 cents to $1.96 a mile; and the flatbed line-haul rate rose 2 cents to $2.12 a mile.

Contract rates decline

National average rates for contracted freight declined compared to April:

  • Contract van rate: $2.62 per mile, down 6 cents
  • Contract reefer rate: $2.91 a mile, down 10 cents
  • Contract flatbed rate: $3.30 a mile, down 3 cents

The average rate for contract van and reefer freight has fallen for seven consecutive months.

“Shippers are taking advantage of abundant truckload capacity to establish new contract rates at substantial savings compared to 2022, and to make strategic use of the spot market,” Adamo said. “We expect these trends to continue through the end of the year.”

About the Author

Commercial Vehicle Staff

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