DAT North American Freight Index Tracks Change in Q3 Seasonal Patterns

Portland, OR – A shift in seasonal trends drove spot market freight volumes down 5.3 percent in September, as reported by the DAT North American Freight Index. Freight volumes remained stable throughout much of the third quarter, instead of a more typical decline in July that is followed by mixed trends in August and September. Compared to August, September load availability declined 1.6 percent for vans and 4.6 percent for flatbeds, but increased 1.1 percent for refrigerated (“reefer”) trailers.

Third quarter volume was up 13 percent compared to the same period in 2012, but the second quarter lagged Q2 2012 by 16 percent. Year-to-date volume is 1.8 percent higher in 2013. These trends yielded a delayed, flattened peak that extended through Q3, as severe weather earlier in the year postponed agricultural and construction seasons and related freight movements.

Compared to September 2012, the Index increased 22 percent, reaching the highest level recorded for the month of September since the Index was established in 1996. Van freight volume rose 12 percent, flatbed loads increased 43 percent and freight designated for reefers added 30 percent.

Spot market rates rose for vans and reefers but declined for flatbeds on both a month-over month and year-over-year basis. Compared to August, van rates rose 0.7 percent and reefer rates gained 1.9 percent, while flatbed rates declined 8.1 percent. Compared to September 2012, van rates increased 3.8 percent and reefer rates rose 4.5 percent, but rates declined 8.1 percent for flatbeds. Additional trend information and analysis is available at DAT Trendlines or the DAT blog.

Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for line haul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which declined compared to September 2012, but rose on a month-over-month basis. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the TransCore DAT network of load boards in the United States and Canada.