DENVER, Colo. —The DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI) declined for all three equipment types in September, indicating a muted shipping season ahead of the holidays, according to DAT Freight & Analytics, which operates the DAT One truckload freight marketplace and the DAT iQ data analytics service.
The DAT TVI for van freight was 228, down 13.7% compared to an unusually active August but in line with prior years. The van TVI was 2.9% lower versus September 2021 and 1.8% higher than September 2020.
The refrigerated (reefer) TVI fell 9.7% to 168, while the flatbed TVI declined 10.5% to 231.
Peak season plateau
The national average spot van rate fell 7 cents to $2.45 per mile, declining from August to September for the first time since 2015, according to DAT, which operates the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America,
The average reefer rate was down 5 cents to $2.84 per mile, and the average flatbed rate dropped 14 cents to $3.64 per mile.
Spot truckload rates are negotiated for each load and paid to the carrier by a freight broker. DAT bases its rate analysis on $137 billion in annualized freight transactions.
“The usual peak period for van freight looks more like a mesa,” Ken Adamo, DAT chief of analytics, said. “The month-over-month decline in September truckload volume suggests that many retailers already have inventory in position, have tempered their expectations for the holidays, or some combination of the two.”
Load-to-truck ratios decline
The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 3.5, unchanged from August, meaning there were 3.5 available loads for every van posted to the DAT One load board network. The reefer load-to-truck ratio was 6.3, down from 7.1, and the flatbed ratio fell to 13.3, down from 14.1 in August.
Demand for trucks increased ahead of Hurricane Ian making landfall on Sept. 28. The number of loads posted to the DAT One network headed to distribution hubs in the Southeast rose 20% during the week before the storm’s arrival.
Contract rates dipped
The national average shipper-to-broker contract van rate declined for the fourth consecutive month, falling 3 cents to $3.09 a mile. The average contract reefer rate was $3.40 a mile last month, unchanged from August, while the average contract rate for flatbed freight dropped 5 cents to $3.64 a mile.
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