Truck demand increases in March, should stay strong in April

Posted on 04/05/2017 by David Radke

Increased Easter shopping among consumers will spur greater truck demand.

Truck demand increased for fleet services across the board in March, according to data collected by DAT Solutions.

Refrigerated trucks saw the greatest increase, with March demand 49 percent higher than demand in February. Truck posts also increased 14 percent, bringing the load-to-truck ratio up to 6.2:1, compared to the 4.8:1 ratio seen in February, a 31 percent jump. The load-to-truck ratio was nearly double that of March 2016's.

The second largest post increase was seen in vans, which went up 47 percent. Van loads increased 13 percent, pushing the load-to-truck ratio up 30 percent to 3.2:1. Like reefers, this is close to twice the ratio seen in March 2016, when it was 1.6:1.

Finally, flatbed posts increased 45 percent. Truck posts increased 6 percent, leading to a load-to-truck ratio of 36.6:1, a 38 percent increase from February's ratio of 26.6:1. This ratio is 109 percent higher than March of 2016, when it came it at 17.5:1.

Spot market rates increase in March

The highest spot market rate was seen among flatbed trucks in March, which came in at $2.03 per mile. This is a 7 cent increase compared to February, and a 17 cent increase compared to March 2016.

The next highest spot market rate was for reefers, which rose 1 cent from February to $1.87 per mile. In March 2016, the rate was $1.78.

Finally, van rates increased 1 cent from February to $1.67 per mile. In March 2016, the rate was $1.52.

Heading into April, truck demand continues to increase. For the week ending Saturday, April 1:

  • Flatbed load posts increased 7 percent.
  • Van load posts increased 10 percent.
  • Reefer load posts increased 2 percent.

The Easter holiday, falling this year on Sunday, April 16, will inspire greater demand in the coming weeks. Consumers are expected to spend $18.4 billion on Easter celebrations this year, an all-time record for the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation. This will contribute to rising truck demand. For example, DAT Solutions pointed out that Western Michigan, a major egg producer, will see an increase in trucking needs. However, since eggs are relatively inexpensive to ship, reefer rates could see decreases.

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