"Backhaul Tuesday" Doesn't Follow Recent Trends

Spot market rates tend to vary by the day of the week: Rates go up on Mondays, as trucks start out from strong markets including L.A., Atlanta and Columbus. By Tuesday, the one-day trips are complete, and trucks need freight to return home from the weaker backhaul markets. That brings the average rate down, and leads to the phenomenon I like to call “Backhaul Tuesday.”

Rates are more neutral on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as two- and three-trips are ending and one-day trips are starting again. The telltale day is Friday. Rates can go up or down on Fridays, and the direction depends heavily on the economic conditions that drive freight availability. If it’s a busy season, trucks will be hooking up on Fridays and parking the loaded equipment in the yard. Then the driver takes a 34-hour mandatory rest at home, and he or she is ready to restart by Sunday night. If there is not a lot of freight left by the end of the week, rates will drop on Friday. That’s your economic indicator for the week.

This week — meaning yesterday — van rates did not drop on Tuesday. There is typically more urgency in the demand for trucks as we get close to the end of a month, and Friday will also be the last business day of the second quarter. Shippers, especially the big, public companies, want to push freight out the door so it can count toward their quarterly financial results. That puts pressure on rates.

Reefers have an additional source of pressure, to get perishable food products into stores before this weekend, as consumers begin to prep for Fourth of July picnics and barbecues.

We are seeing a boom in outbound van and reefer freight this week in the Southeast, especially the area in and around Knoxville, Greenville, Charlotte and Atlanta.

Do you have trucks in that area? What are you hauling?