Spot market freight, truckload rates slide downward in February

Spot market freight, truckload rates slide downward in February

Spot market freight volume fell another 7.9% in February 2016, and truckload rates slipped compared with January. The month-over-month decline was typical of seasonal norms, according to the DAT North American Freight Index, although disappointing harvests in California and Florida also contributed to this year’s lower volume.

Freight volume typically rebounds in March, due to an influx of seasonal cargo such as spring fruit and vegetables, construction equipment and materials, and a variety of consumer items.

By equipment type in February, van freight availability decreased 21%, and refrigerated (reefer) volume lost 27%, while flatbed trailers added 26% versus January. Spot market rates declined 6.0% for vans, 3.5% for reefers, and 1.2% for flatbeds, month over month, not including fuel surcharges.

Compared with February 2015, overall spot market freight availability plunged 37%. This continues a 14-month trend of year-over-year declines, due to a combination of tepid freight growth and abundant capacity. Demand dropped 44% for both van and reefer trailers, and flatbed freight volume lost 24%, year over year. Linehaul rates fell 11% for vans, 7.2% for reefers, and 7.7% for flatbeds, year over year.

Total rates paid by intermediaries to the carrier were down by 18% for vans and 14% for both reefers and flatbeds, compared with February 2015, however, due to a 55% drop in the fuel surcharge, which comprises a portion of the rate. The surcharge is pegged to the retail cost of diesel fuel, which fell below $2.00 per gallon in February for the first time since 2004.

Intermediaries and carriers across North America listed more than 95 million loads and trucks on the DAT network of load boards in 2015. As a result of this high volume, the DAT Freight Index is representative of the ups and downs in North American spot market freight movement.

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