Spot prices to move truckload freight continued their extended slide in August despite stronger load volumes, said DAT Freight & Analytics, which operates the DAT One truckload freight marketplace and DAT iQ data analytics service.

The national average rate to move dry and refrigerated (“reefer”) freight on the spot market fell for the seventh consecutive month. The van rate fell 11 cents to $2.52 per mile in August, while the reefer rate was down 10 cents to $2.89 per mile.

The national average spot rate for flatbed freight tumbled 24 cents to $3.05 per mile in August and was 40 cents below the all-time high set in March.

Spot truckload rates are negotiated on a per-load basis and paid to the carrier by a freight broker. DAT’s rate analysis is based on $137 billion in annualized freight transactions.

DAT’s Truckload Volume Index (TVI) for van freight was 258 last month, an 11.7% increase compared to July. This is the highest-ever van TVI for August and a 12% increase year over year. The reefer TVI increased 8.2% to 184, while the flatbed TVI jumped 12.5% to 251.

“While spot rates declined and overall load-posting activity was down slightly compared to July, an increase in the number of actual loads moved and a decline in fuel prices were encouraging signs to cap off a sluggish summer,” said Ken Adamo, DAT Chief of Analytics.

Van and Reefer Load-to-truck Ratios Hold Firm

The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 3.5, down from 3.8 in July, meaning there were 3.5 available loads for every van posted to the DAT One network.

The reefer load-to-truck ratio was 7.1, virtually unchanged from both June and July.

The flatbed ratio dropped to 14.1, down from 21.8 in July. The flatbed ratio is in line with August 2019 levels (11.9) when the spot market was oversupplied with capacity.

Contract Van and Reefer Rates Decrease

The national average shipper-to-broker contract van rate was $3.12 a mile in August, down 8 cents compared to July and 59 cents higher than the average spot rate in August.

The average contract reefer rate was $3.40 a mile last month, down 9 cents month over month and 51 cents higher than the average spot reefer rate.

The average contract rate for flatbed freight slipped 15 cents to $3.66 a mile. The gap between the contract rate and spot rate was 60 cents.