April Spot Market Freight Volume Slips 8.8% From Q1 Highs

  • Year-over-year: volume up 51%; rates up 19% for vans, 20% for reefers, 12% for flatbeds

  • April 2014 decline reflects seasonal trends

PORTLAND, Ore. (May 14, 2014)—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, an indicator of truckload freight availability and capacity from DAT Solutions.

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.

Volume Above Historic Norms

Spot market freight volume remained well above historic norms in April, up 51% compared to the same month in 2013. Freight designated for vans, the predominant equipment category, was up 48%, refrigerated (”reefer”) freight increased 53%, and flatbed freight saw a 66% increase, year-over-year.

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

Rates Higher in 2014

Significant year-over-year rate increases accompanied the unusually high volume for all three major equipment types. Rates rose 19% for vans, 20% for reefers, and 12% for flatbeds, compared to April 2013. Month-over-month, however, van rates declined 3.8% from record highs in March. Rates rose 2.3% 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.

About DAT Solutions

Based in Portland, Ore., DAT Solutions provides actionable information to transportation professionals in North America. It operates the industry’s largest network of load boards and is a trusted source of supply and demand trends, rate benchmarking, and capacity planning information. Related services include a comprehensive directory of companies with business history, credit, safety, insurance and company reviews; broker transportation management software; fuel tax, mileage, vehicle licensing, and registration services; mobile resource management; and carrier onboarding.

Founded in 1978, DAT Solutions LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Roper Industries, a diversified growth company and constituent of the S&P 500, Fortune 1000 and Russell 1000 indices. www.dat.com