Van rates get pre-Memorial Day boost

As more and more businesses across the country reopen, truckload freight markets are also trying to find their footing. Obviously, we’re not back to business as usual, but the demand for trucks has steadily increased throughout May, following seasonal trends that are typical for this time of year.

The upward trends offers plenty of reasons to be optimistic going forward. Last week saw some of the biggest increases since late March, with many shippers paying a premium to get freight moved ahead of the long Memorial Day weekend.

The national average van rate for May still lags behind where it was in April, so there’s still plenty more ground to cover in many parts of the country, but this brings some much-needed relief for carriers who’ve struggled during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Market Conditions maps are available in the DAT Power load board and DAT RateView, our standalone freight pricing tool.

Even with the recent increases, there are still large swaths of blue in the Market Conditions map, indicating markets where truckload supply outweighs demand. Hot markets included Atlanta, Memphis, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Ontario, CA. We’ve also seen sustained increases in Elmira, NY, down through Philadelphia, despite the close proximity to COVID-19 hot spots.   

Largest increases

Rates rose on 73 of the top 100 van lanes last week, the most since late March. The higher prices were a response to increased volumes on most high-traffic lanes. That once again included lanes out of major California markets. In Los Angeles, outbound rates increased another 9 percent week-over-week.

Note: The rates listed below are averages from last week, based on actual transactions between carriers, brokers and shippers.

  • The average rate on the lane from L.A. to Phoenix rose 24 cents to $2.76 per mile
  • L.A. to Denver jumped up 30 cents to $2.69 per mile
  • Atlanta to Philly rose 18 cents to $1.93

Pricing out of Chicago had largely been static in recent weeks, but there were notable increases from there last week. The lane to Allentown, PA, climbed 15 cents to $2.01 per mile.

Get regular updates on how the coronavirus is affecting freight markets at DAT.com/COVID-19.

Few decreases

Prices fell on only 13 of the top 100 van lanes (14 were neutral). All of those declines were slight, and they were mostly on lanes where rates rose sharply in the opposite direction.

For example, Houston to Los Angeles fell to just $1.15 per mile, but the return trip from L.A. to Houston was up to $1.80 (it only averaged $1.28 in April).


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Matt Sullivan

Matt Sullivan is the editor of DAT Carrier News. He has more than 10 years of journalism experience.