While volume increased last week on the top 100 lanes, rates started to move down by the end of last week. The July 4th holiday weekend was followed by big retail sales events, but the urgency finally gave way to a more typical summer pattern of declining volume and rates in July.
Rates typically peak in June, and then start drifting down right after July 4th. We got an extra week of rate increases this year because the holiday was on a Tuesday, so the second quarter ended on Friday of the holiday weekend. Some shippers may have had a problem finding trucks to move that freight and close the quarter, because drivers were more than a little reluctant to work on the July 4th weekend.
Then came all the "Christmas in July" retail sales events in the following week, with brick-and-mortar stores joining e-commerce vendors in a big freight frenzy. Load-to-truck ratios rose in some unusual places, turning the map red along most of the Eastern seaboard, plus Texas and the rest of the Gulf Coast. (See Hot States Map, below.)
Spot market van rates also rose one more notch at mid-week, before finally settling into the downward trend that's expected in July. Even as rates began to decline, however, they remain strong. The national average is $1.82 per mile today, up 2¢ from the June average.
WHAT'S HOT - A lot of markets started to cool off by the end of last week, with the exception of Columbus and Denver. Outbound rates were trending up sharply in Columbus all month. Allentown, PA also had some pretty steep increases during the last 30 days, too, but outbound loads gave back 11¢ per mile last week.
WHAT'S NOT - Rates were crazy high leaving Charlotte and Los Angeles, but they took a dive in the past week. Dallas rates also fell, dropping 6¢ per mile in one week.
All in all, a strong start to the third quarter. Next week should be a bit quieter, but there may be more surprises in store. In that case, maybe you could wait a couple more weeks before taking a long vacation.