The COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious setbacks in a number of industries, including shipping.
Sea Freight Industry
According to BBC News, 65 cargo ships were recently force to wait outside two of the largest ports in the United States, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. The impact of this delay cannot be underestimate, as these ports handle 40% of all container cargo entering the country. To provide a contrast between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic delays, it was common for a ship to wait for a berth in these ports before Covid. As the outlet reports, the delay is tied to increased demand for imported goods as the U.S. economy reopens. The global shipping industry is struggling to keep pace with retailers and manufacturers rushing to place orders to replenish inventory,
According to shipping news agency Freightos, despite a trend towards stabilizing rates in early November when the peak shipping season ended, rates remain extremely high, eight to nine times higher. to the pre-pandemic norm. The absence of a significant improvement in port congestion does not lower prices either. With the number of ships waiting for a berth yet to decline, some carriers have canceled upcoming West Coast services and others have shifted capacity to intra-Asian services. Asia-Europe fares have not experienced a decline similar to that seen in the Trans-Pacific region due to continued schedule disruptions and port congestion.
Air Cargo Industry
The air cargo industry has also been badly affected. According to International Freighting Weekly, air freight is currently experiencing one of its worst capacity shortages in a decade, leading to delays and higher fares for goods from China and Hong Kong. Delays are currently estimated at 2000-5000 tonnes in Hong Kong and 7500 tonnes in Shanghai. At Chinese airports such as Beijing and Tianjin, delays are in the order of 10 to 14 days, with large shipments or those destined for difficult or unprofitable destinations waiting even longer.
As Freightos reports, airlines have added transatlantic flights to accommodate vaccinated European travelers who are now allowed to enter the United States.
Importers had hoped that the extra cargo space on these flights would lead to lower air freight rates, which were twice as high as standard levels due to a shortage of capacity, but so far that hasn’t happened. was not the case.
In addition, lack of warehouse space and understaffe ground handling crews in both the US and Europe have limited the amount of cargo that can be handle, regardless of available space. in airplanes.
During the first two weeks of November, fares rose 4% to the East Coast and 10% to the West Coast, according to the Freightos Airline Index.
According to the outlet, the rise in fares could indicate that, despite the increase in capacity, growing peak-season demand and congestion are keeping fares high.
As Freightos reports, capacity in the trucking dispatch agency has shrunk and rates have risen due to strong demand from consumers and importers rushing to replenish inventory. Additionally, quarantine rules for returning truckers could create serious delays,
even if goods made during the holidays are ready to ship. Port delays and end-to-end logistics also result from bottlenecks in trucks, warehouses and rail logistics. Data from marketplace Freightos showed that China-US shipments took 83% longer to reach their destination this September compared to September 2019.
Amazon’s Impact on 2021 Shipping Times
As Freightos reports, third-party sellers saw a 60% annual increase in Amazon’s marketplace last year. With consumers forced to drastically reduce their in-person purchases, e-commerce has exploded. This has impacted the trucking freight industry, resulting in a backlog of shipments and resulting delays.
The status of freight rates and shipping prices
The pandemic-related complications affecting the shipping industry have many frustrated importers and exporters wondering.
when freight rates and shipping prices will come down. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it will be anytime soon. However, there are measures to be take. One can compare quotes to make sure you get the best rates and the most efficient services. Then, you can budget for the cost of the inevitable shipping delays. Finally, storage options can be explore to mitigate the effect of lower demand and trade restrictions.
It is necessary to accept that delays and additional costs may occur, and to anticipate them. Considering delays, book shipments as early as possible to maximize efficiency. Make sure your shipping company is responsive and communicative, and can update you regularly on the status of slow shipments. Finally, ensure that a team is ready to handle and move a shipment to its destination to avoid further delays.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global event with few precedents. Its impact on society has been complicate and severe, and no industry has been spare. Unfortunately, the shipping industry has been the hardest hit by the pandemic. Those who depend on the ocean, air, or trucking industry for their shipments will undoubtedly be impacte by delays and increase tariffs. There are, however, ways to mitigate the impact. Rest assured, this is a temporary situation, and things will eventually normalize. In the meantime, make the most of a less than ideal situation.