Freight Analysts Warn Coronavirus Threat Will Increase Rate Volatility

Beaverton, OR – One of trucking’s top freight tracking experts is warning of increased volatility in freight rates as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

While DAT freight forecasts show that rates are likely to be higher than last year, beginning in spring or early summer, prices are not expected to stay consistent with normal seasonality.

“The impact of the coronavirus will add volatility to freight flows, as surges in consumer demand alternate with potential constraints on imports, exports and industrial production,” explained Ken Adamo, Chief of Analytics at DAT. “Our predictive models continue to update to anticipate and account for these atypical trends when forecasting demand, capacity and rates in the coming months.”

 

Freight rates increased in January, but truckload rates and volumes declined for dry van, refrigerated and flatbed equipment, according to the DAT Truckload Volume Index.

Including fuel surcharges, van rates averaged $1.79 per mile nationally in February, down 8 cents from January and 9 cents from February 2019.

At $2.10 per mile, the national average reefer rates lost 14 cents compared to January and fell 11 cents from February 2019.

National average flatbed rates dropped 2 cents month over month at $2.15 per mile, an 18-cents decline from February 2019.

 

Volumes fell 7 percent for both vans and reefers month over month, while flatbed load counts edged down 3 percent.

Compared to February 2019, however, volumes increased for all three equipment types: vans gained 10 percent, reefers added 11 percent and flatbed volume rose 4 percent.

DAT reports those declines were consistent with normal seasonal trends and not necessarily attributable to the factory closures that followed the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Photo courtesy FMCSA

 


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