- Weekly truck load volume declined for the weeks of March 23 and March 30 in four major cities hit hard by the coronavirus, according to an analysis by FourKites. In New York City, volume was down 14% and 10%, respectively, week over week; in San Francisco, volume was down 7% and 10%; in New Orleans, it was down 11% and 26%; and in Detroit, volume was up 2% and then down 12%.
- Vivek Vaid, FourKites chief technology officer, wrote Monday on the company blog that FourKites looked at recent volume impacting four of the cities hardest hit by COVID-19. He found truck loads returning to normal after a surge in March.
- DAT Solutions found the same trend, reporting on Friday that spot truckload volumes and rates rose sharply for dry van and refrigerated freight during the first three weeks of March, "before cresting and spending the final week of the month well below seasonal norms, according to the DAT Truckload Volume Index." Other statistics show the number of trucks catching up the number of loads, which will lower spot prices. The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 1.5 for the week ending April 5, down from 2.8 the previous week. The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio fell to 2.6, down from 4.9 the previous week, DAT reported.
Fleets were swamped with business during the initial stage of the COVID-19 crisis. Now consumer demand is returning to somewhat normal levels, Vaid said.
According to Peggy Dorf, DAT senior market analyst, March numbers were a comedown from an "exceptional" peak.
"The increases in March were based on exceptional demand from shippers through March 22, at which point the market turned dramatically," Dorf said in a Friday news release. "Consumers and supply chains began to adjust to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the urgency to replenish inventory and secure available capacity on the spot market fell significantly."
For the month of March, spot van rates averaged $1.87 per mile nationally in March, up 8 cents from February and 4 cents from March 2019, DAT reported. For reefers, the national average went up 10 cents from February, to $2.19, and matched the average rate of March 2019. But the manufacturing and industrial sector took a hit. The national average flatbed rate increased 4 cents in March to $2.19 per mile, a 15-cent decline from March 2019, DAT reported.
A DAT official said dry van spot rates will further decline if the economy does not improve.
"Based on our truckload pricing data and predictive models, we anticipate further downward pressure on dry van rates through the summer unless more certainty returns to the economy," said Ken Adamo, chief of analytics at DAT.