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Back in May, American Shipper warned that a second-half rebound in U.S. containerized import volumes was highly unlikely, as it was becoming increasingly clear that importers were facing a clear shift in consumer spending (from discretionary goods to more essential goods) and a nagging surplus of inventories that were carried over from last year. The reverse bullwhip effect was clearly going to crack any chances of a robust peak season. It also warned that this dismal outlook for future U.S. import demand may drive carriers to go to extreme lengths to keep upward pressure on spot rates.
Fast-forward to today and the tide is indeed turning quickly, with recent data from SONAR’s Container Atlas showing new booking volumes plummeting over 35% from their peak reached on August 1, a key indicator that U.S. import demand is rapidly deteriorating. While this significant drop in future demand is undoubtedly increasing the downward pressure on spot rates, ocean carriers have been pulling out all of the stops to help offset this downward pressure. This means going beyond blank sailings and rejecting a record amount of U.S.-bound containers in a seemingly desperate, last-ditch attempt to bolster spot rates ahead of (and after) their proposed general rate increase on September 1.
Read more in an article from American Shipper.