DAT Freight Index: July Spot Truckload Volume and Rates Return to Earth

PORTLAND, Ore. — Spot market freight availability dropped sharply in July, returning to typical seasonal levels after an all-time peak in June. Volume fell 29 percent month over month, but increased 3.4 percent compared to July 2017. The decline brings levels in line with the same month in 2017 and 2014, the previous record-holders for the DAT Freight Index, a monthly indicator of spot market trucking.

Monthly average rates declined seasonally, which still ranks among the strongest months in recent years, according to DAT Solutions, which operates North America’s largest load board marketplace.

“Spot market rates did not drop as much as we would expect in July,” explained Mark Montague, pricing analyst at DAT. “Going forward, rate trends are likely to follow a normal seasonal pattern, but at a level that’s 25 to 30 percent higher than in 2017,” Montague added.

Month over month, spot van rates fell 2 cents to $2.29 per mile, while flatbed rates slid 5 cents to $2.77. Rates for refrigerated (“reefer”) equipment dropped more steeply, down 9 cents to $2.61 per mile, as produce season wound down in California.

Spot reefer and flatbed rates both exceeded the comparable contract rates again, as reefer rates rose 3 cents to $2.59 and flatbeds lost 5 cents to $2.73 for longer-term contracts, month over month.

Compared to July 2017, spot rates for van equipment rose 51 cents per mile, reefers added 54 cents, and flatbeds got a 60-cent increase.

Established in 1978, DAT operates a network of load boards serving intermediaries and carriers across North America. For more than a decade DAT has published its Freight Index, which is representative of the dynamic spot market.

Referenced rates are the averages by equipment type, based on $57 billion of actual transactions, as recorded in DAT RateView. Reference rates per mile include fuel surcharges, but not accessorials or other fees. The DAT Freight Index reflects load posting volume on the DAT network of load boards, and 100 on the Index represents the average monthly volume in the year 2000. Additional trends and analysis are available at DAT Trendlines.