While many of our shipping industry news updates last year discussed a shortage of containers due to the Covid pandemic, the industry is now facing a new challenge—too many containers.
On top of falling freight rates, data shows container depots that house containers after they are unloaded, are now filling up or full. Is this caused by a falling global demand or an impending economic slowdown? Does this mean that the shipping crisis is over?
Angie Payne, CEO of A American Container explains the current state of the container industry.
- While there was a shortage of shipping containers at the height of the pandemic, there are now too many containers.
- The decline in global consumer demand is not a sign that the economy is normalizing, rather it signals a downward shift in consumer demand.
- Canceled or blank sailings are on the rise, which is usually not the case for the holiday shipping season.
Container Depots Are at Capacity
Now that there is a surplus of containers in the supply chain, there’s just not enough depot space to house all of these containers.
In Milan, Italy for instance, the container import volume is increasing to an extent that the depot has had to return some requests for depot services agreements. They are now unable to accept new clients for some of their depots. And this isn’t just happening in Milan, it is occurring globally.
This is happening in part due to a peak season that technically did not happen this year. Due to the last few years, retailers have been cautious about having a high level of inventory on hand, so the holiday rush was far less busy than in normal years.
Plus, with cargo being “on time” now, we’re seeing a slowdown in new ordering as companies adjust to more efficient turnaround time in ocean freight delivery—something that hasn’t happened since the early days of the pandemic.
Combating Overflowing Depots
To combat full and overflowing container depots, ports such as the Port of Houston have started charging fees for empty containers that sit in terminals for more than seven days.
Often left sitting for weeks on end, the sheer number of empty containers at ports or on ships leaves the entire industry without sufficient depot space to store them, which only exacerbates the ongoing supply chain crisis.
Ultimately, the issue of having too many containers is impacting container repositioning and movement across the globe.
Despite the fact that there is an abundance of the number of containers at ports, prices have stubbornly remained the same.
Amid the holiday season, known as the year’s biggest spending period, blank or canceled sailings are also on the rise, something that usually does not occur this time of year.
A blank sailing occurs when a shipping company decides to skip a port or an entire leg of its journey to manage the changes in demand or capacity.
Currently, there is a significant downward trend in consumer demand which leads to less demand for freight and cargo, thus impacting the container demand globally.
In an updated canceled sailings analysis, Drewry stated that between November and early December, 14% of sailings across major shipping routes have been canceled, which is quite significant when you take into account how busy this time of year usually is.
Due to a “bear” market, recessionary fears and inflationary risks are having an impact on consumers across the globe. This has caused some shippers to resort to giving away containers to reduce crowding at depots while many others have resorted to blank or canceled sailings.
Is There Any Good News?
The good news about having a surplus of shipping containers in the market is that we now have plenty of containers of various sizes in stock at our lot here in Tampa, including:
- 20’ rentals
- 20’ sales and modifications
- 40’ one-trips
- Specialty sizes like high cubes
Secure Storage Solutions
We’re excited to help you find the best storage solution for your needs!