The market is presenting significant operational challenges this week, including new domestic developments.
Winter weather is delaying cargo across the US, from all coasts through the Midwest. The UP has shut down nearly its entire intermodal network due to weather. Severe conditions and sub-zero temperatures from the PNW to Chicago to Texas have resulted in widespread power outages and traffic delays. The northeast and mid-Atlantic have also seen major winter storms over the last 1-2 weeks and are still recovering from those delays.
US rail and trucking networks remain inundated with volume. Some truckers in major metro areas such as Chicago, New York/New Jersey, and Memphis are not accepting new work orders until further notice. The situation is extremely challenging across all gateways, including all ports and inland CYs. Rail and truck bottlenecks are growing more severe as port congestion itself remains at a critical point. There are still a significant number of vessels anchored off the west coast (30+ off LAX/LGB, 10-12 off Oakland), and backlogs at other ports. This Coast Guard video taken last week off San Pedro Bay will serve to underscore the severity of the situation.
The Lunar New year holiday ends today in China, and other Southeast Asian countries have already returned to work. Volumes remain high, and vessel space and equipment remains seriously constrained. With more structured blank sailings coming in an effort to provide relief to already-congested ports, the supply/demand equation on Transpacific Eastbound lanes is becoming increasingly unbalanced. Carriers are reporting that, “LNY has resulted in no significant slowdowns in demand out of Asia.”
Space and equipment on Transatlantic Westbound trade are reaching new levels of concern. The vast majority of capacity through March has already been fully booked, and carriers are issuing guidance notices that most new bookings will not be accommodated until April at the earliest.
Rates are holding at high levels and rising in certain markets, including the US trucking market. Fuel rates are also on the rise, so we expect bunker and inland fuel adjustments in the coming weeks and months. Premium and last-minute capacity are the most expensive, but nearly everything is moving at inflated rates.
There are no signs of imminent slowdown on US imports. US retailers are still struggling to maintain adequate inventory levels and continue to order aggressively, even at high current transportation costs.
According to the JOC, US retail importers are planning for a year-over-year increase of 22.1% in the first half of 2021, with each month setting a new import volume record. Further, the JOC reports that “the sale of goods at many businesses is outstripping available inventory and that will keep pressure on supply chains, constraining capacity and pushing up transportation costs throughout 2021.”
Early booking and forecasting are critical so we can plan appropriately for allocation and scheduling requirements. Again, we urge you to proactively communicate any specific space needs to your dedicated CVI customer service or sales representative.
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Your CVI team is here to assist you through these current market challenges. Ocean freight, air freight, domestic road/rail, and Customs Compliance – count on our dedicated professionals to care for you and your supply chain. Call us and let us show you what we can do!
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Rachel serves as Director, Pricing and Procurement for CVI. Her responsibilities include vendor selection, contract management and negotiation, transportation pricing, FMC compliance, and international agent network management.
Rachel began her career in international shipping with CMA-CGM America. She joined CVI in 2011, gaining experience in various departments with a focus on inside sales and marketing for the company. In 2014, Rachel assumed the role of Manager, Transportation, working on service procurement and development of client proposals. She has served in her current position since 2018.
A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Rachel earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 2005. She holds a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Maritime and Supply Chain Management from Old Dominion University.
– Rachel Shames, Director, Pricing & Procurement, CVI
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