Why Did Rates Rise, if Holiday Shipping is Done?

Line haul rates rose again last week for both vans and reefers on the highest-volume lanes in the U.S. and Canada. Rates had softened after Thanksgiving, and it seemed that the holiday shipping season was coming to a close, at least for truckload carriers on the spot market. So why did prices bounce back?

VANS: One answer is that outbound van rates took a nosedive in early December, and the price increase returned rates to the “new normal” of $2.08 per mile.

We have been sampling average rates for the top lanes — 80 for van and 76 for reefer — for the past for years or more, as part of our weekly Trendlines update. This group of lanes offers advance intelligence of spot market rate movements that are typically reinforced a few days later by changes in the national average rates on all 20,000 point-to-point lanes in North America.

Those spot market rates reflect thousands of rate agreements per day, and the prices actually paid by freight brokers to the carriers for each transaction. As we have discussed before, sustained changes in spot market rates usually predict changes in the contract rates that large carriers charge to their shipper customers.