Reefer demand affect by changes in grocery shopping

Bricks Meets Clicks’ recently published grocery shopping survey reported that U.S. online grocery sales totaled $9.3 billion in March. This is almost identical to January’s record spending levels.

March 2021’s grocery spending is a 43% increase compared to the $6.5 billion in sales in March 2020. This quantifies the disruptive impact of a pandemic that continues to alter the way people get their groceries.

The survey found that:

  • More than 69 million households placed an average of 2.8 online orders in March 2021
  • The delivery/pickup segment accounts for more than 75% of total online grocery sales
  • Ship-to-home segment lost 27% of its monthly users compared to March of last year

“In terms of order share, the ship-to-home segment had captured the largest share of orders before the pandemic and even during March 2020,” notes the survey. “Over the past year, ship-to-home has ceded nearly 19 percentage points of order share to the delivery and pickup segments. Today, pickup is the dominant way online orders are received in the U.S.”

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Reefer Market Conditions - Week of April 26

All rates exclude fuel unless otherwise noted.

Produce markets dominate the Top 10 this week where reefer load posts jumped 30%. Spot rates also increased by $0.03/mile to an average of $2.69/mile — $0.08/mile higher than the average for all 135 markets.

  • Miami had a 9% increase in volume this week (same as last year) and tightening capacity pushed spot rates up by $0.10/mile to $2.46/mile
  • Lakewood, FL, is in produce season and saw volumes spike by 24%, increasing spot rates by $0.07/mile to $2.16/mile
  • Los Angeles had increased volumes and spot rates rose $0.07 mile to $3.16/mile
  • Ontario, CA, had increased volumes and spot rates rose $0.07/mile to $3.37/mile
  • San Francisco had increased volumes and spot rates rose $0.07/mile to $2.80/mile

This is peak shipping season for Mother’s Day flowers. The focus will be on Miami, where 90% of flowers arrive from Ecuador and Columbia in the three weeks leading up to May 9.

Spot rates forecast

Reefer spot rates cooled slightly last week, dropping by just $0.01/mile to a national average of $2.61/mile. Compared to the same week in 2020 when rates were $1.64/mile, reefer spot rates are now $0.97/mile higher and still $0.52/mile higher than this time in 2018.

National Spot Rate Reefers Actuals with Forecast

How to interpret the rate forecast:

  1. Ratecast: DAT’s core forecasting model
  2. Short Term Scenario: Formerly the pessimistic model that focuses on a more near-term historical dataset
  3. Blended Scenario: More heavily weighted towards the longer-term models
  4. Blended Scenario v2:  More heavily weighted towards the shorter-term models

> Learn more about rate forecasts from DAT iQ