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Q1 spot market freight volumes reflect seasonality, says DAT

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
May 07, 2013

Typical season patterns were intact for spot market freight volumes in the first quarter of 2013 and in the month of March, according to data recently released by DAT, a subsidiary of Portland, Oregon-based TransCore.

DAT said that first quarter sport market freight volumes were up 7.7 percent annually and 11 percent ahead of the fourth quarter of 2012.

And on a monthly basis, March was up 37 percent compared to February, with spot market freight availability 4.5 percent below March 2012. Meanwhile, March spot market freight volumes were up 26 percent for van loads, 33 percent for reefer loads, and 48 percent for flatbed loads compared to February.

DAT noted that spot market van loads and reefer freight availability were up 1.5 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively, in March on an annual basis, and flatbed freight volume was down 11 percent.

For March spot market rates, DAT said rates increased compared to February for all equipment types, with vans and flatbeds up 2.4 percent each respectively, and reefer rates up 2.1 percent. And on an annual basis the company said that rate and freight volume demand trends were consistent for each equipment type, with vans up 1.6 percent, reefers up 1.4 percent, and flatbeds down 4.3 percent.

“March was down modestly annually overall and was fairly unremarkable, especially following the strong January performance we saw,” said David Schrader, senior vice president of DAT’s freight matching business. “What we saw in February and March was more normal behavior and seasonal. The only caveat there is that from a weather perspective was that the first quarter of 2012 was pretty strong from a weather-comparable perspective, with freight levels stronger. And in this year’s first quarter there have been more difficult comparisons.”

Schrader said that January’s strong performance paced a solid first quarter, adding that April was reasonably healthy as well, which he said may be modestly lower on an annual basis.

Looking ahead, Schrader said that the pending July 1 truck driver hours-or-service (HOS) changes could impact spot market freight volumes in that it will affect available capacity supply—but to which extent is unknown.

“The dynamic in our world is that as capacity tightens, freight stays relatively constant and drives more freight into the spot markets,” he explained. “What I would expect to occur as capacity continues to tighten in the second quarter is more robust freight demand in the spot market as there may be a more limited pool of capacity. A relatively small decline in capacity or a small uptick in freight will have a dramatic impact in terms of how much freight moves into the spot market. As that plays out with HOS, it should create a fairly robust spot market.”

About the Author

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Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Article Topics

News · DAT · HOS · TransCore · All topics


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