September Van and Reefer Trends Stay Strong After Labor Day

Volumes and rates got a boost heading into the Labor Day weekend, and those prices mostly held steady last week. Demand was up, but there weren’t many big changes on the top 100 van lanes. The national average for reefers added 1¢, but flatbed rates slipped 3¢.

Darker-colored states have higher load-to-truck ratios, meaning that there’s less competition for van loads in those states.

Texas volumes have improved, and outbound rates were up the major van lanes from Dallas. Prices in Chicago, Columbus, Seattle, and Philadelphia are all higher than they were a month ago.

Demand for vans has been highest across the northern band of states, and the Midwest has a top region for loads and rates. Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Joliet, IL, were all in the top 10 for load posts on DAT Load Boards last week. Rates on the lane from Columbus to Buffalo rose 27¢ and paid $2.76/mile on average.

Outbound rates were down in Buffalo, and a couple inbound lanes also paid less: The lane from Charlotte was down 28¢ to $1.90/mile. Chicago to Buffalo also fell 20¢, but it’s still averaging $2.17/mile, which is higher than it was three weeks ago. Out West, the backhaul from Denver to Stockton only paid an average of $0.96/mile.

Darker-colored states have higher load-to-truck ratios, meaning that there’s less competition for reefer loads in those states.

Reefer volumes also held up during the 4-day work week. Of the top 72 reefer lanes, 35 of them paid better, while rates slipped lower on 32 lanes. Northern markets have shown the highest demand: Chicago; Elizabeth, NJ; and Grand Rapids, MI were numbers 1, 2, and 3 for reefer load posts last week.

The two biggest gains on lane rates were also out of the Midwest: Grand Rapids to Madison, WI, was up 29¢ to $2.75/mile, while Green Bay to Joliet rose 29¢ to a nice $3.35/mile. Chicago to Minneapolis dropped 18¢ to $1.93/mile, but you can make more money right now going the other direction. Minneapolis to Chicago rates were up to $2.01/mile.

Out West, the outbound average in Sacramento surged to $2.39/mile, which is just 2¢ shy of the average reefer rate out of Los Angeles.


Lane-by-lane rate information and Hot Market Maps are available in the DAT Power load board. Rates are based on DAT RateView, with $28 billion in lane rates, updated daily, for 65,000 point-to-point lanes across North America.

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