Hurricane Florence is still hundreds of miles from landfall, but the Category 4 storm already is affecting freight rates. Spot market truckload rates jumped by several cents per mile as the hurricane plowed toward the Carolinas and freight activity picked up post-Labor Day, reversing the trend of several weeks.
The national average dry van rate jumped 6 cents to $2.20 per mile, while the average refrigerated truck rate rose 8 cents to $2.57 per mile, DAT Solutions said Tuesday. The average US flatbed spot rate dropped 2 cents to $2.62, continuing a trend noted in August as construction demand dipped.
“Load board activity typically declines 20 to 25 percent during a holiday week,” DAT said. “Van capacity was especially tight, however,” in the week that ended Sept. 8, “and there was extra demand on the spot market” for trucks to move Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) loads.
Prepositioned FEMA emergency supplies accounted for some of that demand, but some shippers may also have been looking to move freight out of the projected storm path, which includes South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, before Florence reaches shore early on Friday, Sept. 14.
Van load data
“The number of van load posts on DAT load boards fell 6 percent while truck posts fell 14 percent, sending the national van load-to-truck ratio up 10 percent to 7.3 loads per truck,” DAT said. Average outbound spot van rates rose 1 cent per mile from Charlotte, North Carolina, to $2.48 per mile.
Charlotte was the highest priced spot freight market in the Southeast, DAT said, while Atlanta was the lowest, with the average dry van rate outbound from Atlanta also rising 1 cent to $2.35 per mile. Atlanta to Lakeland, Florida, however, was the highest-priced spot lane last week, at $3.08 per mile.
The highest-priced regions remained the Midwest, where the average dry van spot rate was $2.65 per mile, and the West, where the average DAT load board rate for a dry van tractor-trailer hit $2.59 per mile. The average rate was $2.09 per mile in the Northeast and $1.94 per mile in the South Central United States.
Last year, spot rates rose sharply in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit the Gulf Coast in Florida in late August and early September. The average DAT van rate in September 2017 — $1.97 per mile — was 18 cents higher than in July and 35 cents higher than in September 2016.
An increase in imports in July 2017 also led to higher truckload demand in August and September of that year as freight moved inland. This July, imports increased 8.7 percent year over year, compared with a 6.1 percent increase in 2017, according to PIERS, a JOC.com sister product.
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