Load posts on DAT load boards soared last week, creating an even tighter spot market than what we saw before Thanksgiving. How long that will last remains to be seen, with retail freight still moving into place ahead of Christmas. But one thing is for certain: The extra surge in demand as we head toward Christmas is further proof that this strong season isn't slowing down just yet.
It’s typical to see a big increase in spot market activity in the week after Thanksgiving. Since a lot of people take 1 or 2 days off that week, it usually results in about 40% more load posts in the following week, when everyone goes back to work. But last week, load posts jumped up 64%, compared to just a 22% increase in truck posts.
The national ratio for dry van freight set an all-time high: 9.3 van loads per truck. Just look below at the Hot States Map for last week.
The load-to-truck ratio isn't an exact measurement, though. Brokers will re-post loads when they can't find a truck, and not every carrier posts their available trucks. For those reasons, we think of the ratio as more of a barometer than a thermometer – it measures how much pressure there is for rates to go up. When the ratio goes up or down, rates usually follow.
But last week, van rates adjusted to the final push before Christmas, with some previously hot markets starting to cool as freight moves farther east. Denver’s outbound average was up 6%, while retail freight pushed rates higher out of Columbus, OH. The "final mile" for a lot of retail loads is out of Allentown, PA, and outbound rates rose there as well.
All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers.
Fewer crazy lanes this week, compared to what we've been seeing for the past month or so.
- Seattle to Spokane jumped up 50¢ to $3.67/mile
- Columbus to Buffalo rates rose 19¢ more at an average of $3.81/mile
- Denver to Los Angeles was up 20¢ to $1.25/mile, but not enough to offset the decline in the headhaul rate going the other direction
- Allentown to Richmond, VA was also up 19¢ to $2.83/mile
Many lanes had rates ease off of what had been all-time highs before Thanksgiving.
- Chicago to Buffalo dropped 39¢ from its peak to $3.13/mile
- The L.A. to Denver lane we were mentioning before was down 30¢ to $3.19/mile
- Outbound van rates from Stockton, CA, also adjusted to the eastward shift in demand, with the lane to Salt Lake City down 29¢ to an average of $2.29/mile
- Stockton to Seattle also lost 27¢ at $2.62/mile