Weekly Report 52 – 12/29/2021

Spot rates rise by the most in four years as van markets set records

Total spot rates in the system jumped 16.8 cents a mile during the week ended December 24 (week 51) for the largest one-week increase in exactly four years. The refrigerated and dry van segments posted record rates. Most of the largest rate gains on record occurred during the final two weeks of the year. Load postings fell sharply during the week, but an increase in refrigerated loads – typical for a week heading into Christmas – partially offset large drops in other segments.


Total Market demand index

Big jumps in rates often reflect sizable gains in spot market imbalance, but that was not the case in the latest week. Load postings fell 23.7% while truck postings fell 24%, so the Market Demand Index – the ratio of loads to trucks in the system – barely changed from the previous week.

Dry Van Spot Loads

Dry van load postings fell 27.3% from the previous week. The five-year average decline for week 51 is a 6% decline, but those comparisons are volatile for various reasons, including the day of the week on which Christmas falls. Dry van volume was nearly 38% higher than the same week last year and more than double the five-year average (2015-2019) for the week.

Refrigerated Spot Loads

Refrigerated volume rose 7.9% from the previous week. The five-year average increase is nearly 20%, but comparisons are unreliable owing to the timing of holidays. Refrigerated volume was nearly 92% higher than the same 2020 week and nearly 129% above the five-year average.

Flatbed Spot Loads

Flatbed load postings dropped 31.2% from the previous week. The five-year average decrease is more than 11%. Flatbed load postings were about 41% higher than the same week last year and about 113% above the five-year average.

Total Spot Rates

The spot market had not recorded a stronger increase in rates since week 51 of 2017, which saw the added pressure of being the first week of the electronic logging device mandate. Rates in the latest week were about 16% higher than the same 2020 week and about 10% higher excluding fuel surcharges. Refrigerated saw the largest gain as spot rates surged 37 cents to a record, beating the prior record by nearly 13 cents. Dry van rates rose nearly 20 cents to a record, edging out the prior record set three weeks earlier by less than a penny. Excluding fuel, dry van rates did not quite set a record, falling just short of the final week of 2020. Flatbed rates were up nearly 1 cent and have seen modest gains for six straight weeks.

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