Before this week, the spot market had been a bit calmer in December compared to November. Dry van volumes were pretty similar last week to the week before, and rates settled down from the peaks we saw after Thanksgiving. We'd normally expect rates to decline steadily from now until early March. In recent years, e-commerce has kept rates high through early January. But on top of all that, we now have the ELD mandate that went into effect Monday, which is a huge wild card.
Late pushes to get freight in place before Christmas led to higher rates out of Buffalo and Allentown, PA. The distribution centers and warehouses in those markets serve the big population centers of the Northeast, so a lot of retail freight is being hauled to its final destination now. On the other side of the country, we're seeing the end of a surge in volumes that sent rates skyward on the West Coast. That is also a normal seasonal trend.
But again, all these seasonal trends are getting a big shakeup this week, while everyone adjusts to electronic logbooks.
Just look at this Hot Market Map for Monday, the first day under the new ELD mandate.
All that dark red means that brokers and shippers had a harder time finding trucks yesterday. If that continues through the week, it'll put pressure on rates to go back up. And that's not even considering any urgent shipments needing to be delivered before Christmas.
Meantime, here were the biggest movements up and down last week, but bear in mind that all of this could change quickly this week.
All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers.
- The biggest increase last week was on the lane from Columbus to Buffalo, which was up 31¢ to an average of $3.37/mile, as retail freight moved between two distribution hubs
- Salt Lake City to Stockton, CA, gained 20¢ at $1.78/mile
- Denver to Albuquerque, NM has been trending up in recent weeks, and the average rate rose another 17¢ at $2.33/mile
There were a few significant drops last week, but nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year. All of this was pre-ELD mandate, though:
- Los Angeles to Denver dropped 29¢ to $3.05/mile
- Seattle to Salt Lake City also fell 29¢ to an average of $2.11/mile
- Chicago to Atlanta moved 22¢ lower at $2.74/mile