Truckload Freight and Rates Begin Seasonal Decline

PORTLAND, Ore. (Feb. 13, 2015)—Spot market freight volume declined seasonally in January, down 11 percent from an atypical December high, according to the DAT Spot Market Freight Index. Compared to January 2014, volume slipped 27 percent from extraordinary demand during last winter’s Polar Vortex. This was the first year-over-year decline on the Index in 19 months.

Compared to December, freight volume by equipment type declined 18 percent for vans, 3.1 percent for flatbeds and 2.5 percent for refrigerated (“reefer”) trailers. Truckload freight rates on the spot market drifted down 3.6 percent for vans and 3.1 percent for reefers, while the average flatbed rate was unchanged, month over month.

Compared to the unusual market conditions of January 2014, freight volume by equipment type declined 27 percent for vans, 35 percent for flatbeds and 0.7 percent for reefers last month. Rates trended up, however: van rates added 15 percent, flatbeds were up 7.9 percent, and reefer rates rose 3.8 percent, year over year.

Monthly average van rates have increased year over year for 19 consecutive months, while flatbed and reefer rates have trended up every month since the end of 2013.