Spot Market Rate Trend of the Week: Reefer and Flatbed Rates Rising

Rates trend up for flatbed and reefer freight in major markets

The strongest flatbed markets during February include outbound Chicago (up 3.2%) and Atlanta (up 2.0%). Larger markets tended to do better in February than smaller, backhaul markets.

For reefer freight, line haul rates rose by 1.6% during the month of February, despite cold weather that reduced crops and shipments out of California and Florida. Outbound rates from Atlanta increased because of that city’s position in supplying foodstuffs to Florida markets. Pressure on Atlanta rates also increased, to compensate carriers on the outbound lane for the lack of backhaul freight availability from Florida.

Other rates from Atlanta also increased, including lanes to Chicago, Charlotte, Memphis and Philadelphia. This trend suggests equipment shortages. Overall, reefer rates declined in backhaul lanes through the month of February. The exception was Denver to Los Angeles, which showed a strong price increase. Most inbound rates to California have been rising, compensating for low outbound rates that are due largely to California’s excess truckload capacity.

Van rates chilled in the West

Winter weather descended from the Pacific Northwest into northern California, Nevada and Utah last week. The weather appears to have chilled outbound rates, as the Stockton market in Northern California experienced a 5.7% decline. That’s the biggest two-week decline for any market in the past 18 months.

Meanwhile, Denver outbound rates have fallen by 4.4%. Rates from Denver to Dallas fell by $0.08 per mile for vans in the last two weeks, and is currently down to $1.39 per mile to the truck, including fuel surcharges. The rate from Los Angeles to Phoenix has declined by $0.12 in the last two weeks, but the rate is still high at $2.13 per mile to the truck, all-in.

Eastern and Midwestern rates up for vans

In the Eastern U.S., van rates are increasing and have climbed by 5% outbound from Columbus, Ohio. Other markets are also showing increased line haul rates, including: Philadelphia (up 2.6%), Dallas (up 2.6%), Chicago (up 2.4%) and Atlanta (up 2.2%).

Individual lanes with price increases include: Columbus to Atlanta and Memphis (up $0.08) and to Chicago (up $0.07). Interestingly, the head haul from Chicago to Columbus is also up by $0.12 cents per mile in the last two weeks. This may mean that outbound loads between the two cities are finally moving well, putting additional pressure on limited capacity.

For detailed information on current spot market lane rates check out Truckload Rate Index. For weekly market trends, sign up for TransCore Trendlines.