What is the crisis?
The crisis that the freight industry is currently experiencing is heavily Covid-19 related. The Covid-19 pandemic that has shifted the ways of the whole world, has meant that there are major delays in ports, and drastic increases in prices. Of course, many people of the world have been experiencing lockdowns in their country, with many sectors closed, such as travel, tourism and hospitality. Having these sectors closed, has meant that people have had to find other ways to occupy their time and find other things to spend money on.
Therefore, people have been spending a lot more money and putting a lot more of their efforts into ordering items to their homes, particularly home and garden items. Exports from China have seen a massive increase.
This has developed into a crisis because of the amount of demand that these items have generated. The industry has been struggling to keep up with this demand, especially with limited production from the west. Covid-19 has also meant that many workers have been off work. This means that production lines have slowed, causing further delays. The UK have also been experiencing a huge lorry driver shortage. This has also caused huge delays with shipments.
When will prices come down?
Currently, prices are incredibly high and have had a massive increase since the Coronavirus pandemic. In July of 2020, the average price of shipping a 40ft container from China was around £1,500. In today’s climate, that price is around £11,000! That’s a staggering 633% price increase.
It is a completely unprecedented situation that the world is in, and it is very difficult to predict when these prices are likely to drop. There has been speculation from some businesses though, that suspect the prices will remain high until at least the end of 2021.
Easyimex Managing Director, Adam Gilbourne has said “The higher freight prices go, the more reluctant importers are to ship containers, and so they either don’t ship, or don’t order. This means that the demand that was or still is there for these goods has not been met, meaning as more containers become available, there is even more demand for them! – It becomes an extremely dangerous self-perpetuating cycle” The fact that freight is going ‘up’ in what’s traditionally the time rates normally drop means there will be no time for rates to relax before we hit ‘peak season’. Combine that with the fact that the fundamental reasons that caused the container shortages in the first place are not about to be fixed anytime soon – I genuinely don’t expect to see any substantial freight decrease until post Chinese New Year 2022. The truth is, times are challenging but importers will need to make some tough decisions. In many cases, importers need to make the decision of ‘do I stop importing and have no stock to sell? – or do I take a risk and try to pass on large price increases to the consumer? Many importers have been waiting in hope for freight prices to drop but this currently seems like an ill-advised strategy unless you have enough stock to last your business say 12 months.”
What can I do?
It is very difficult to predict what will happen in future with regards to freight costs, so, all you can really do is wait for prices to decrease or increase your own prices onto consumers and buyers.
If you have any questions or concerns about importing from China, please do not hesitate to get in touch.