Spot truckload rates rise ahead of Memorial Day

It’s hardly business as usual out there, but traffic during the week leading up to Memorial Day nudged national average spot truckload rates higher on DAT MembersEdge.
The number of posted loads actually dropped 16.5% but truck posts fell 29% during the week ending May 24, which includes the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Shippers and brokers pay a premium to move freight ahead of the long weekend, and fewer trucks helped give rates an added boost.

National average spot truckload rates through May 24

  • Van: $1.57 per mile, 6 cents lower than the April average.
  • Flatbed: $1.88 a mile, 6 cents lower than April.
  • Reefer: $2.00 a mile, 7 cents higher than April.

The rolling national average van, flatbed, and reefer rates were 6, 7, and 8 cents higher, respectively, on May 24 than they were at the start of the month. Rates are low but trending in the right direction.

What to watch

Load-to-truck ratios

The load-to-truck ratio is the number of available loads relative to the number of posted trucks. Like a barometer, it measures how much pressure there is on rates to go up or down. Where ratios move, prices tend to follow.

  • Van: 2.0 loads per truck, up from 1.7 last week.
  • Flatbed: 14.3, up from 11.2 last week. It was just 4.4 five weeks ago.
  • Reefer: 3.1, up from 2.9.


Dry van load-to-truck ratios are ticking higher. Where ratios move, prices tend to follow.
Dry van load-to-truck ratios are ticking higher. Where ratios move, prices tend to follow.

Mo’ lanes, better rates

Truckload rates were higher on 73 of DAT’s top 100 van lanes by volume compared to the previous week, and volumes were up 5.7% on those 100 lanes. Rates were better on 49 of the top 72 reefer lanes by volume.
California leads the way
The average Los Angeles outbound van rate increased another 9% week-over-week to $2.20 per mile. That’s up from $1.83 two weeks ago. Key outbound lanes are up since the start of month:

  • Los Angeles to Stockton, Calif.: $2.49 a mile, up 30 cents from May 1.
  • Los Angeles to Dallas: $1.84 per mile, up 40 cents from May 1.
  • Los Angeles to Phoenix: $2.76 per mile, up 49 cents from May 1.

A few California-based reefer lanes broke the $3 per mile barrier last week:

  • Stockton to Salt Lake City averaged $3.16 per mile.
  • Stockton to Portland, Ore., hit $3.27.
  • Fresno to Seattle jumped up to $3.09.
  • L.A. to Phoenix was $3.07.

Raising Arizona

Reefer rates have been rising steadily out of Nogales, Ariz., and made big jumps last week. These aren’t high-volume lanes but the rates make them worth checking out:

  • Nogales to Dallas: $2.56 a mile, up 28 cents compared to the previous week.
  • Nogales to Chicago: $2.58 a mile, up 25 cents.
  • Nogales to Brooklyn: $2.58 a mile on a 2,500-mile trip.

Peak Florida

Produce season out of Florida flips from hot to not in a hurry, and right now reefer rates appear to have peaked. Most outbound lanes posted declines last week, including from Miami to Atlanta (down 16 cents to an average of $1.87 per mile) and Elizabeth, N.J. (14 cents lower to $2.08). Rates out of Lakeland, Fla., also edged down slightly.
This summary’s month-to-date national average truckload rates were generated using DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $68 billion in freight payments. Actual spot rates are negotiated between the carrier and the broker.
For the latest spot market updates related to COVID-19, visit and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter. You can post comments on the DAT Freight Talk blog or the DAT Facebook page. You can listen to the DAT MembersEdge report every Wednesday on Land Line Now.
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