Due to the current global situation, warehouses everywhere are getting so full of goods like fridges and washing machines that retailers are asking shipping companies to push back deliveries. This may drag global container shipments down as much as 30 per cent in the next few months, according to the head of an industry group.
Shipments have probably fallen about 15 per cent so far this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to International Chamber of Shipping chairman Esben Poulsson. Second-quarter declines, compared with a year ago, will depend on by how much governments reopen economies, he said.
"Inventories of goods like apparel, textiles, white goods, are full," Poulsson said last week. "We are hearing of receivers of these goods asking shipping lines whether they can store these goods for a period of time or slow their ships down or basically delay taking delivery."
The slump is a setback for shipping giants such as Cosco Shipping Holdings and Ocean Network Express Holdings, which started the year strong as healthy trade volumes allowed the industry to boost rates. That optimism has now evaporated as the virus outbreak has forced shoppers to stay home, crimping retail sales in the biggest consumer markets.
According to straitstimes.com, inbound containers to the Port of Los Angeles plunged 26 per cent in March from a year earlier, while Singapore's container throughput dropped to its worst reading since August and Hong Kong's measure fell below average again after a brief respite in February.