Today’s lanes to watch: Monday, December 13, 2021

Takeaways for today's lanes:

  • Reefer spot rates climb back near multi-month highs in the Columbia to Harrisburg lane.

  • Intermodal remains attractive for spot shippers in the Elizabeth to Chicago lane despite a 17% increase in intermodal spot rates in the past week.

  • Spot rates are likely to climb higher from Columbus to Atlanta as the Headhaul Index climbs 20% week-over-week (w/w).

Columbia to Harrisburg – Reefer rejection rates top 50% out of Columbia.

SONAR Tickers: Market Dashboard for reefer rates from Columbia to Harrisburg


  • Rejection rates for refrigerated loads moving out of Columbia remain extremely volatile, bouncing between 35% and 58% over the past few weeks.

  • Spot rates have also been volatile heading to Harrisburg according to FreightWaves TRAC, with average rates moving back over $4.90 per mile after a strong drop last week.

  • Harrisburg’s reefer rejection rates have bounced between 20% and 25% over the last two months and are currently on the low end of that range at around 20.8%.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Pad margins on reefer loads in this lane while looking for increasing activity out of the Columbia market. Expect rates to be above $4.50 per mile.

Carriers: Reefer carriers should accept more loads into the Columbia market, but do not expect any significant changes in Northeastern capacity. Rates remain extremely high moving into the Northeast, but there will be fewer opportunities to head back south.

Shippers: Increase lead times to their maximum levels in this lane. Expect rates to be at the high end of their historical spectrum this week with capacity on the decline for the holiday period.

Elizabeth, NJ to Chicago – Intermodal remains attractive for spot shippers despite a 17% increase in intermodal spot rates in the past week.



  • The door-to-door intermodal spot rate increased 17% in the past week – from $1.45/mile, including fuel surcharges, to $1.70/mile, including fuel surcharges.

  • The average domestic truckload spot rate that brokers are paying for capacity is $2.49/mile, including fuel surcharges.

  • In the past week, the average daily volume of loaded domestic intermodal containers in the lane averaged 530 units, near the top of the range of the past year and well above the summer, when loaded containerized intermodal volume averaged about 450 units/day.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Raise your rates to reflect the recent increase in dry van spot rates in the lane. Use Market Dashboard to monitor what other brokers are paying for capacity. The average rate brokers are paying for dry van capacity is $2.49/mile with $2.65/mile and $2.34/mile representing rates in the 67th and 33rd percentiles, respectively.

Carriers: Chicago is a solid destination for carriers. While Chicago’s van outbound tender rejection rate of 16.73% is 134 basis points (bps) below the national van tender rejection rate, the Chicago Van Headhaul Index of 43.85 suggests that it will be easy to get reloaded.

Shippers: Intermodal volume data suggests that intermodal fluidity has improved from what shippers experienced in recent months. An average of 21 containers moved empty in the lane in the past week, which indicates there remains excess capacity. The difference in spot rates between intermodal and truckload makes intermodal attractive for spot shippers moving less time-sensitive loads.

Columbus to Atlanta – Capacity is likely to tighten further in the days ahead, sending spot rates higher.

SONAR Market Dashboard Dry Van Rates from Columbus, OH to Atlanta, GA


  • Columbus outbound tender volumes are up 9% w/w, signaling that demand for outbound capacity is increasing.

  • The Columbus Headhaul Index is up 20% w/w, signaling that capacity is likely to tighten due to the growing imbalance between inbound and outbound volumes.

  • Columbus outbound tender rejections are down 135 bps w/w, but are likely to increase soon due to the growing imbalance between inbound and outbound volumes.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Columbus outbound tender rejections have decreased slightly over the past week (down 135 bps), but are expected to increase in the days ahead as the imbalance between inbound and outbound tender volumes grows, resulting in a 20% increase w/w in the Headhaul Index. Spot rates are already at their highest levels in a month, so be sure to adjust your pricing accordingly.

Carriers: Spot rates are the highest they have been in a month in the Columbus to Atlanta lane, but pricing power is likely to shift even further into your favor as the imbalance between inbound and outbound volumes grows. The Headhaul Index is already up 20% w/w, so keep an eye on outbound tender rejections and be sure to adjust your pricing higher if they begin to show positive w/w changes in the days ahead.

Shippers: Your shipper cohorts in Columbus are currently averaging 2.8 days in tender lead times, but with outbound volumes and the Headhaul Index on the rise, it would be wise to push your tender lead times to between 3.5 and 4 days through the next couple of weeks to ensure you are able to secure capacity if the market tightens further.

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