The most recent edition of the DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI), for the month of November, which was recently released by DAT Freight & Analytics, continued an ongoing theme of steady gains and new high levels for spot truckload volumes and rates.
The DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI) reflects the change in the number of loads with a pickup date during that month, with the actual index number normalized each month to accommodate any new data sources without distortion, with a baseline of 100 equal to the number of loads moved in January 2015. It measures dry van, refrigerated (reefer), and flatbed trucks moved by truckload carriers.
November’s TVI reading—at 239—matched October, which initially set a new record for the number of loads moved by motor carriers in a month, according to DAT. And DAT said that national average truckload spot, van, and reefer rates headed up for the sixth consecutive month, with contract van and reefer (refrigerated) rates having seen increases each month going back to May 2020.
DAT’s data highlighted the following takeaways for truckload volumes, load-to-truck ratios, and rates, for the month of November, including:
the national average spot market rate for reefer loads increased $0.17, to $3.46 per mile (including fuel surcharge), representing the largest annual gain since June 2018 and up $0.76 annually;
the national average spot market rate for van freight, at $2.93 per mile, saw a $0.04 increase over October, with the flatbed rate falling $0.04 to $3.04, for the month;
loads posted to the DAT One load board network saw a 9.5% November decline, with truck posts seeing a 3.6% increase, which DAT observed represents a continued theme of less volume and more equipment;
the national average van load-to-truck ratio, at 5.2, fell from October’s 5.6, and the reefer load-to-truck ratio, at 11.9, was flat from October, with the flatbed ratio, at 37.5, down from October’s 48.6;
the national average contract van rate, at $2.92 per mile, was up $0.04, from October to November, with the reefer rate up $0.05, to $3.11 per mile, and the average flatbed contract rate was down $0.02, to $3.33 per mile; and
the national average fuel surcharge, at $0.41 a mile for van freight, marked its highest monthly average going back to November 2014
“November had a familiar feel with spot rates cresting at a high level and contract rates continuing to creep upward,” said Ken Adamo, Chief of Analytics at DAT Freight & Analytics, in a statement. “One exception was the sharp increase in spot reefer rates as food retailers tried to keep pace with people gathering for the holidays and going out for entertainment.”
In a recent interview, Adamo explained that there is no firm ceiling or an absolute maximum of freight that can be moved or charged.
“It is like stocks or anything else, which have support levels,” he said. “Something systemic would have to change for more freight to move or for rates to go higher. For the long-haul stuff, we have been stuck at the rates we are currently at for several months now, with some ticks up here and there, but by and large, there has not been huge upward movement.”
On the volume side, he said that truckload is moving about as much as it can. And much of that ties back to the myriad global supply chain issues that have been in the spotlight in recent weeks, he added.
As an example, there are items like exercise equipment and appliances that are expected to be ordered and move through the supply chain, whereas there have also been shortages items found in supermarkets and retail stores, which Adamo said are raising a lot of eyebrows.
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