Spot Market Seasonal Slowdown Begins … Sorta

Spot market demand tends to slow down in the middle of January, so it wasn’t surprising that load posts on DAT load boards edged down 4% last week. It was actually the first decline since mid-November that wasn’t related to a shorter work week because of a holiday.

Meanwhile, truck posts were up another 5%, following the big surge in posts we saw in the week before. That pushed the national load-to-truck ratio lower for vans, but it’s still very high at 9.8 loads per truck. The national average van rate also took a step back last week, but it’s still $2.27/mile, way above where it was last month.

In other words, the seasonal decline in spot market prices is moving at a far slower rate than the increase that followed the ELD mandate. Rates were down on most of the top 100 van lanes, but many markets and lanes remain at extremely elevated levels.

With the exception of Memphis, the biggest declines in spot market rates were in the Southeast and out West. Philadelphia hit an all-time high last week, with the average outbound rate jumping up to $2.43/mile. The energy sector also remains hot, which pushed prices higher out of Houston. Some of that demand could have been due to re-scheduling of contract freight after snow and ice shut down bridges and highway on-ramps.

Weather may also have been a factor in boosting Chicago’s average outbound rate above $3.00/mile, which is rare for vans in that market.

All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers.


  • Philadelphia to Boston rates rose 35¢ to an average of $3.40/mile, which could be due to delays caused by winter storms

A couple big increases out of Chicago:

  • Chicago to Buffalo was up 27¢ to $3.84/mile
  • Chicago to Allentown, PA, also added 22¢ at $3.76/mile


Van rates were down across the board in the West, where weather has not been a big factor this month. Declines out of Seattle have been the sharpest, with outbound rates down 14% for the month, alongside a big drop in volumes. Rates also fell out of Allentown, but those prices are coming down from a very high point. These are typical trends for mid-January.

  • While Philly to Boston rates were up, Allentown to Boston was down 35¢, but still higher at $4.12/mile
  • Denver to Albuquerque, NM, rates dropped 43¢ to $2.49/mile
  • Los Angeles to Phoenix fell 24¢ to an average of $2.93/mile
  • Atlanta to Philadelphia was down 21¢ to $2.63/mile

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