Van Ratios and Rates Hit Record Highs at End of Quarter

Friday was the end of the second quarter, and also the start of the July 4th holiday weekend. The combination boosted demand, as shippers wanted to move freight out the door before the end of June. Trucks were also more scarce than usual, because so many drivers wanted to be home for a four-day weekend that included the Tuesday holiday.

The national average load-to-truck ratio hit a one-week record of 6.4 loads per truck. That’s the highest it’s been since at least 2010, maybe longer. The imbalance between demand and capacity increased pressure on van rates, which rose on 74 of the top 100 van lanes in the U.S. Rates continued to trend up sharply this week, which might reflect just how much more shippers had to pay to get their loads moved before July 4th.

In the past, rates have started to decline after Independence Day, so the market may quiet down in the next couple of days or weeks. One additional source of rate pressure looms, however: Amazon’s Prime Day, with special deals on merchandise and shipping, is coming up on Tuesday. Other retailers have also announced big sales events this month, so there could be a surge in van loads moving from one distribution center to another, prepping for an expected boost in consumer spending.

HOT MARKETS: Prices jumped up out of Allentown, PA, last week, but the Southeast was the hot spot for van freight in June. Outbound rates in Memphis are up 14% for the month. Atlanta and Charlotte prices were also up by double-digit percentage points.

RISING LANES: Most lane rates were up last week, with some taking notable jumps.

  • Atlanta to Philadelphia added another 17¢ to a new high of $2.95 per mile
  • Atlanta to Charlotte was a strong regional lane, up 16¢ to $2.85 per mile. The return trip also paid better
  • Allentown to Boston rates were up 18¢ to an average of $3.44 per mile. That’s high even when you consider how bad the options are coming back from Boston.
  • Stockton, CA, rebounded after weather hampered shipments the week before. Rates on the lane to Seattle rose 22¢ to an average of $2.85 per mile.

FALLING LANES: Demand and rates are still strong out of Atlanta, but not all lanes were up.

  • improvements out of Columbus caused rates on the Atlanta to Columbus lane to dip 17¢ to $2.23 per mile
  • Other declines were minor, and barely worth mentioning.

Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in the DAT Power load board, including rates from DAT RateView.

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