Mid-May Spot Market Has Been a Mixed Bag

Spot market van volumes have been fairly flat since March, but still well above last year’s numbers. Last week was a mixed bag, though. The national average van rate was down, but the average on the top 100 lanes was up. Short-haul lanes were up, while long-haul lanes were down.

Even within the same regions, there were inconsistencies. In the South, volumes were up nearly 9% in Charlotte, but down 3% in Atlanta. In Texas, Houston volumes rose 5%, but were down 3% in Dallas.

Rates in major van markets didn’t make any big moves in one direction or the other last week, but outbound rates in both Houston and Los Angeles have risen by 5% over the past month. Charlotte rates have also been trending upward. If you’ve been checking the Hot Market Maps in DAT Power, you’ve probably noticed the elevated demand in those cities.

Load-to-truck ratios are highest for vans in the darker red areas on the Hot States Map above.


The average length of haul decreased last week, so the biggest rate increases were generally on shorter, regional lanes.

  • Atlanta to Charlotte rose 23¢ to an average of $2.40/mile
  • Philadelphia to Boston was also up 16¢ to $3.18/mile
  • Along the Gulf Coast, Houston to New Orleans was up 15¢ to an average of $2.53/mile
  • Memphis to Indianapolis isn’t a lane we talk a lot about and it’s rarely among the top gainers, but the average rate jumped up 12¢ last week to $1.89/mile


Since the average length of haul was down, it’s no surprise that the biggest declines last week were on long-haul lanes. Intermodal companies have also been competing for market share lately with aggressive pricing, which has pushed truckload rates lower on longer lanes that compete with rail.

  • Houston to Los Angeles dropped 10¢ to $1.21/mile
  • Denver to Houston also fell11¢ to just $1.00/mile
  • The Midwest continues to look sluggish, and rates on the lane from Chicago to Buffalo were down 13¢ to $2.16/mile

Load-to-truck ratios are highest for reefers in the darker blue areas on the Hot States Map above.

Reefer lanes were up practically across the board. On the top 72 lanes, 51 had higher rates last week. That comes despite uneven production out of Florida, shipping gaps in California, and a drop in volumes in markets near the Mexican border.

Reefer load counts were up in urban markets like Chicago (up 13%). Potato shipments have also picked up out of Idaho, and California volumes are expected to push the segment through the 4th of July. With the recent weakness in the long haul van market, all this should add stability by absorbing capacity.


Miami started to fade last week, but high demand out of Lakeland in Central Florida kept outbound rates in the state from falling too much.

  • Lakeland to Baltimore surged 40¢ to $2.68/mile on average
  • Sacramento to Portland, OR was up 32¢ to $2.77/mile
  • Los Angeles to Denver also jumped up 29¢ to $2.84/mile
  • For a lane less produce-dependent, Atlanta to Philadelphia rates rose 27¢ to $2.57/mile


Not many

  • Philadelphia to Miami fell 20¢ to $1.50/mile, but that should snap back with produce starting to ship out of Southern New Jersey
  • Grand Rapids to Atlanta continued to drop, and it fell nother 11¢ at $1.90/mile

Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in the DAT Power load board, including rates from DAT RateView.