Freight rates used to fall in December, since retailers needed to have all their freight in place before Black Friday. E-commerce has changed all that. Van rates have gone up in December the past three years, and this year has continued that trend so far.
Winter weather could push rates higher this week, too, but travel could be slower and more difficult in places in the Midwest and Northeast, so be careful out there.
The darker areas in the Hot Market Map above show where there's less competition for van loads
Traditional distribution hubs like Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta lost momentum last week, with the focus shifting to e-commerce hubs, including Memphis, Seattle, and Denver. Those markets had a strong demand for trucks after Thanksgiving, and parcel freight could still be moving right up until Saturday the 24th (although it looks like Seattle has started slowing down, according to the Hot Market Map above).
Some e-commerce retailers are consolidating parcel freight into full truckloads, which they move from one regional distribution center to another before putting the parcels on a local delivery truck.
Denver’s outbound rates have spiked with the higher volume of loads, but Denver rates are still low compared to every other market. That’s nothing new. Seattle is also a backhaul market for the most part, but outbound rates there were actually higher last week than the average rates out of Texas.
Los Angeles is the biggest van market where outbound rates are lower now than they were a month ago. You can tell by looking at the Hot Market Map above that the rest of California is pretty quiet this time of year, too.
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