Weekly Report 45 – 11/09/2021

Refrigerated spot volume nears record as Thanksgiving approaches

Although total load postings in the system fell 3.4% during the week ended November 5 (week 44), the refrigerated segment posted its largest weekly gain since the week following Labor Day week. Refrigerated volume was about 6% below week 35’s record level with two more weeks to go before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, dry van volume declined in a week that typically would have seen a gain, perhaps reflecting ongoing supply chain disruptions in the run-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


Total Market demand index

Truck postings in the system were basically flat overall week to week, but the experiences were quite different in individual segments as a sizable gain in flatbed trucks offset declines in the van markets. The Market Demand Index – the ratio of loads to trucks in the system – eased slightly, but the refrigerated segment’s MDI jumped to a record high while the flatbed MDI declined to its lowest level in nearly a year.

Dry Van Spot Loads

Dry van load postings fell 7.9% after a 3.7% gain in the prior week. On average, dry van volume rises nearly 6% during week 44, so it appears that various supply chain constraints could be creating some volatility week to week. Load postings were 16% higher than the same week last year and about 166% above the five-year average.

Refrigerated Spot Loads

Refrigerated volume jumped 13.3% after easing 0.7% in the prior week. The increase was the largest since week 37. The five-year average change for week 44 is a 14.5% increase, so the segment’s sharp gain was not quite in line with seasonal expectations. However, those expectations were not based on refrigerated load postings that are 55% higher than the same 2020 week and more than triple the five-year average.

Flatbed Spot Loads

Flatbed load postings declined 5.2% after edging up 0.6% in the prior week. On average, flatbed volume decreases about 4% during week 44, so the segment’s decline was just a bit larger than seasonal expectations. Volume was about 21% higher than the same week last year and about 179% higher than the five-year average.

Total Spot Rates

Total spot rates were little changed, rising only about 1 cent per mile. However, as with volume and capacity, the experience varied greatly by segment. Dry van rates fell about 4 cents, and flatbed rates eased by about a cent. But refrigerated rates rose by more than 12 cents, which is the strongest gain since one of the same magnitude during week 35. Total rates were about 20% higher than the same week last year. Dry van, refrigerated, and flatbed rates are up about 14%, 20%, and 22%, respectively, from the same 2020 week. Excluding fuel surcharges, dry van rates were up about 5%, and refrigerated and flatbed were up about 13%.

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