As winter holiday merchandise floods into U.S. ports ahead of the annual peak shopping season, shippers and retailers are stumbling over truckload rates that are lingering at record high points, according to statistics from truckload freight marketplace operator DAT Freight & Analytics.
Those clashing trends are forcing shippers to pay a premium for transportation amid pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, whether they choose spot market or contract trucking rates.
“Shippers not only experienced escalating spot and contract rates in July, they were hampered by port congestion, unloading delays, shortages of trucks and drivers, and more recently tighter intermodal capacity,” Ken Adamo, chief of analytics at DAT, said in a release. “With holiday merchandise already arriving at ports, for many shippers there is more freight than the commercial transportation system has the capacity to handle efficiently. All modes are under stress.”
The statistics reveal that freight volumes retreated slightly in July from June’s record levels, but remained historically elevated, DAT said. The Portland, Oregon-based firm’s DAT Truckload Volume Index was 222 in July, down 8% compared to June. The Index is an aggregated measure of dry van, refrigerated, and flatbed loads moved by truckload carriers, and is an indicator of commercial freight activity, measured in relation to a baseline of 100 set in January 2015.
More specifically, the national average spot rate for van loads on the DAT One load board network was $2.73 per mile, up 5 cents from June and 70 cents higher year over year. And contract truckload rates again set records for all three equipment types, reflecting urgency among shippers to secure capacity and reduce volatility in their supply chains, DAT said.
Looking ahead into August, truckload services are likely to retain high demand, as ships continue to bunch up outside the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, where about one-third of all container imports arrive. Likewise, the ongoing chassis trailer shortage has been exacerbated by higher-than-normal dwell times for local container delivery and intermodal railcars to move containers from West Coast ports to inland destinations.
[Market Conditions: Van] Containerized import volume is up 7% month-over-month ahead of the holiday retail season. Spot rates remain at $2.43/mile, which is $0.62/mile higher than this time in 2018.— DAT Freight & Analytics (@LoadBoards) August 20, 2021
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