In a year of record freight on the spot market, March 2014 was no exception. Freight availability rose 56% in March on the DAT North American Index, including Canada, compared with the same month in 2013.
Within the United States, the year-over-year change was even more dramatic. A 64% increase was divided among the three equipment categories: refrigerated (reefer) trailers were up 70%, vans rose 63%, and flatbeds climbed 58%.
Compared with February 2014, freight volume increased 17% in March. Extraordinary volume from December through February was attributable to extreme winter weather that disrupted supply chains nationwide during what is usually a slow season. In March, however, freight volume also received a boost from increased economic activity and normal seasonal trends, in addition to pent-up demand from recurring storms.
Much of the increased seasonal volume was in the flatbed segment, where load availability rose 38% versus February. Reefer loads increased 7.0% and van freight added 10%, month over month.
Continued pressure on spot market capacity also buoyed spot market rates to new heights in March. Year-over-year rate increases were significant for all three major equipment types: 20% for reefers, 25% for vans, and 13% for flatbeds. In contrast to February 2014, when extreme weather led to a shift of unusual freight volumes to the spot market, rates in March advanced 3.6% for reefers, 6.7% for vans, and 4.8% for flatbeds.
Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for linehaul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which increased on a month-over-month basis but declined compared with March 2013. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the DAT Network of load boards in the United States and Canada. Additional trends and analysis are available at DAT Trendlines.
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