By and large, spring was not kind to carriers, so the higher rates we’ve been seeing in recent weeks are a welcome sign for trucking companies. If nothing else, this typical seasonal trend provides at least some piece of normality in what have otherwise been turbulent times for truckers.
Truckload markets have been on the rebound for the past three weeks, but the pace of recovery sped up last week. The combination of the shorter work week and the end of the month made truck capacity harder to find, which meant freight brokers and shippers paid more for truckload shipments.
The COVID-19 crisis has created an extremely difficult business environment for trucking companies this spring. But after weeks and weeks of declines, freight markets finally appear to have turned a corner.
Spot market truckload rates hit a four-year low in April. For dry van freight, the national average was just $1.64 per mile. You have to go back to September 2016 to find a national average lower than that for vans.
Good news has been hard to come by for motor carriers this month. Truckload volumes remain well below seasonal levels on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was an uptick in dry van shipments last week. That did little to keep spot rates from sliding further, though.
Reefer carriers are starting to feel the pain of coronavirus-related closures, as volume and rates declined sharply for reefer equipment in the past two weeks. Restaurants and cafeterias are closed nationwide, which eliminates a big segment of refrigerated shippers and their freight, even as grocery stores continue to replenish inventories at an accelerated pace.