It comes as no surprise that U.S. importers have been experiencing a tremendous increase in cost of ocean freight. Ocean freight rates have been steadily increasing over the past several months. And, the reality is, there is no end in sight to these skyrocketing costs.
Global pandemics have global consequences, and the consequences created by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic certainly bears that out. In the first quarter of 2020, China factories were forced to close down in an attempt to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. When those factories finally re-opened in the early part of the second quarter of 2020, order backlogs were their first priority.
Next came the need to fill new orders, which were coming in it at record levels. This dynamic created the first part of the “Perfect Storm.” With the worldwide lockdowns in 2020 as a result of COVID-19, a new dynamic was created.
People were forced to work from their homes and many still are and will be for quite some time. This phenomenon created a significant increase in the utilization of online shopping networks, to order merchandise they would normally pick up at a retail store. That was coupled with the fear of shortages of everyday necessities, which then created even more havoc in U.S. consumers’ buying trends.
Demand outweighed supply and that trend is continuing.
Fast forward to where we are today, and we not only see continually increasing ocean shipping costs, but we are now also experiencing major delays in getting products from Southeast Asia to North America. The main reason behind these delays is the lack of space availability on ocean carrier’s vessels, which is exacerbated by a shortage of available ocean containers to meet the importers’ shipping demands. In addition, with limited workforces at several U.S. ports, many ships are anchored offshore on the West Coast waiting for births to be unloaded. Recent estimates claimed that over 60 ships were waiting for their turn to unload their cargo at several West Coast Ports.