April Spot Market Freight Volume Slips 8.8% From Q1 Highs: DAT Freight Index

Portland, OR – Truckload freight levels in the spot market began a gradual decline toward seasonal norms in April, following extraordinary volume in the first quarter, according to the DAT North American Freight Index. Extreme weather, as well as economic and regulatory factors, reduced fleet productivity and disrupted supply chain operations throughout the winter, driving a larger proportion of shippers and intermediaries to the spot market for elusive truck capacity.

DAT Freight Index April 2014Spot market freight volume continued to trend well above historic norms in April, up 51 percent compared to the same month in 2013. Freight designated for vans, the predominant equipment category, was up 48 percent, refrigerated (”reefer”) freight increased 53 percent and flatbed freight saw a 66 percent increase.

Compared to the record-breaking levels of March, however, total freight volume slipped 8.8 percent in April. A decline from March to April has occurred twice in the last 5 years. Month-over-month, April van and reefer freight volume contracted 22 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Flatbed loads increased 10 percent month over month, however, in an expected seasonal pattern.

Significant year-over-year rate increases accompanied the unusually high volume for all three major equipment types. Rates rose 19 percent for vans, 20 percent for reefers, and 12 percent for flatbeds, compared to April 2013. On a month-over-month basis, however, van rates declined 3.8 percent from March’s record highs. Rates rose 2.3 percent for reefers, and 4.0 percent for flatbeds, due to strong seasonal trends that affect cargo availability for those equipment types.

Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for line haul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which declined on a month-over-month basis but increased compared to April 2013. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the DAT Network of load boards in the United States and Canada. Additional trends and analysis are available at DAT Trendlines.