It’s that time of year again! Peak shipping season for the holiday set is upon us leading to more volume than ever being shipped across the ocean to our shores in the US. Ocean ports and trains are already struggling to keep up, it’s looking to be a hectic shipping season. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from freight in the coming months.
CHINA / HONG KONG
Coronavirus and border restrictions still plague China and Hong Kong, keeping lines long at the borders and delivery prices high. Exporters are already scrambling for vessel space which remains in high demand, expect continued rolling schedules throughout the next few months.
US WEST COAST
The West Coast ports continue to struggle to keep up with a high volume of incoming containers. Importers have learned from the past two years and have been planning early shipping for their goods, but the ports still can’t keep up. Consumers continue to buy despite inflation pushing our supply chain to its limits. We expect that arriving containers will likely lag at port for 4 to 6 weeks before continuing the next leg of their journey. Plan for plenty of delays in the months leading up to the holidays.
As if high volumes weren’t enough to struggle with, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union continues its contract battle with the Pacific Maritime Association which was supposed to wrap up in July. Negotiations progressed late in July regarding health benefits, but there’s still a long way to go. Next on the list for negotiations is automation for ports which will be the first, although lengthy step, to fixing our crippled supply chain.
As negotiations press on, the port of Oakland is back up and running after trucker protests shut down the port for five days, adding to the backlog of containers.
US EAST COAST
The East Coast is also seeing its share of high-volume imports causing significant delays. Chassis shortages for truckers are becoming a problem and could keep your containers at port for weeks accruing storage and late container fees in the process, expect extra charges and longer waits for delivery.
Like the West Coast ports, the rail is congested with container buildup and union rail workers are threatening strikes. Chicago is particularly backed up with a major chassis shortage for truckers. Even when your container is released from the railyard, it could take days to find an available chassis to move your goods along.
We’re in for a challenging season with delays looming at every step and the supply chain stretched to its limits. Be prepared for delays and manage your timelines accordingly. It’s not going to be unheard of to see 70-day transit times from China to the US, especially if the West Coast and the rails are part of that journey.
Buckle up kids, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!