Spot market freight volumes reported by the DAT North American Freight Index rose 0.5% in July 2013, exceeding June levels for the first time since the index was established in 1996. Freight volume typically declines from June to July; the average month-over-month decline was 20% over the past 10 years.
This year’s atypical, extended freight season can be attributed to a combination of pent-up demand for flatbeds due to weather-related delays in housing starts, as well as a robust harvest that added to July demand for refrigerated (reefer) trailers in the West and Midwest. Flatbed loads increased 6.0% and reefer freight availability rose 1.8%, while van loads declined 6.2% compared with June.
Year-over-year freight availability rose 13% overall, with increased volume for all equipment types. Flatbed volume rose 20%, reefer loads increased 26%, and van freight added 6.8% versus July 2012.
A seasonal month-over-month decline in spot market rates is expected in July as capacity becomes available in many parts of the nation. Rates rose 1.2% for flatbeds, however. Rates declined seasonally for other equipment types, dipping 0.7% for vans and 3.4% for reefers, as additional truckload capacity became available to meet seasonal demand. On a year-over-year basis, flatbed rates declined 6.7% and van rates slipped 2.1% from the record highs of July 2012, but reefer rates rose 1.2%.
Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which is based on $20 billion of actual transactions paid by brokers, 3PLs, and shippers to carriers. Reference rates are for linehaul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which were unchanged in July on a month-over-month basis, but declined compared with July 2012. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the TransCore DAT network of load boards in the United States and Canada.
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