Rate Trend of the Week – After Strong July, August Looks Soft

After a strong July that saw spot market rates hold up better than in the three previous years, last week was not a good one for spot market freight. We saw declines in spot market rates for all three equipment types. In the top lanes I measure, flatbed rates were down 1.8%, reefer down 1.1%, and van declined 2.4% from the prior week. Also, loads posted declined 5.9%.

Last week’s results may not mean that much. I’ve been watching for the mid-summer slump that typically comes in July. July held up better than I’d expect, so this may be a correction. Also, some individual lanes are picking up with back-to-school/holiday merchandise so the trend could reverse. I do think that these numbers bear watching and if we get another down week, that would really be significant in that we are now in mid-August when freight should be picking up.

Rising fuel prices may be a drag on household spending as well as impacting trucking. I know the sharp rise in retail gasoline got my attention. The bad news was confirmed by DOE, which showed an increase of 11.5 cents in diesel fuel prices on Monday so that is a definite headwind on linehaul prices in the coming week.

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