BOISE, Idaho, and BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Data from Truckstop and FTR Transportation Intelligence for the week ending Jan. 27, 2023, shows that spot rates continue to move according to seasonal expectations for a post-holiday cooldown.
While rates are still tracking with the five-year average, spot load activity so far in 2023 has been weakening relative to average levels.
In the latest week, volume was nearly 21% below the five-year average. That comparison has deteriorated each week during 2023 and is the lowest since the lockdown period of the pandemic except for Thanksgiving week last year.
The increase in truck postings slightly outpaced the uptick in volume. The Market Demand Index fell to 55.5 — the lowest level in eight weeks. Rates are still close to average levels, but volume in 2023 has been weakening relative to the five-year average. Total load activity ticked up 1% after the prior week’s 13.3% drop. Volume was nearly 60% below the same week last year and nearly 21% below the five-year average.
The comparison with the five-year average has deteriorated each week during 2023 and is currently the lowest since the lockdown period of the pandemic, except for Thanksgiving week 2022. Load activity was mixed regionally as volume was up in the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest but down elsewhere.
Truck postings increased 3.2%, and the Market Demand Index — the ratio of loads to trucks — fell to its lowest level in eight weeks. The total broker-posted spot market rate fell nearly 3 cents, the smallest decrease of 2023 so far.
Rates were 19% below the same week in 2022 and about 5% above the five-year average, which is slightly weaker than in week 3. FTR estimates that rates excluding a calculated fuel surcharge were about 28% below the same week last year.
Broker-posted rates in dry van and refrigerated are lower than they were before the final two weeks of 2022 but are still tracking very close to the five-year average.
Dry van rates declined more than 34 cents in the first four weeks of 2023 after jumping about 24 cents in the final two weeks of 2022. Dry van spot rates declined about 6 cents after the much sharper decreases in the two weeks prior. Dry van rates were about 28% below the same week in 2022 and about 1% below the five-year average for the week. Excluding a fuel surcharge, rates were about 39% lower than in the same week last year. Dry van loads ticked up nearly 1% after dropping about 24% in the prior week. Volume was almost 60% below the same week last year and about 16% below the five-year average for the week.
Refrigerated rates have dropped nearly 75 cents after surging more than 67 cents. The strength of spot rates will become clearer over the next several weeks as they typically begin to firm in February. Refrigerated spot rates fell 10 cents for the smallest decrease this year. Refrigerated rates were more than 29% below the same week in 2022 and about 1% below the five-year average for the week. Although the deficit relative to the average is small, it is the largest since June 2020. Excluding fuel surcharges, rates were nearly 39% below the same week last year. Refrigerated loads declined 3% after falling more than 26% during the previous week. Volume was more than 64% below the same week in 2022 and nearly 26% below the five-year average for the week.
Flatbed saw neither the big rate surge in late December nor the sustained cooldown this year that the van segments experienced. In the latest week, flatbed rates were only about 4 cents lower than they were before the holidays. Flatbed spot rates eased just over a cent. Rates were about 14% below the same 2022 week but 8% above the five-year average for the week. Excluding an imputed surcharge, flatbed rates were nearly 23% below the same week last year. Flatbed loads increased 2.8% to the highest level since August.
Volume was almost 63% below the same week last year and nearly 28% below the five-year average for the week.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.