The double-digit percentage year over year volume growth on the Asia to U.S. trade-lane is expected to continue well past the Lunar New Year holiday (Feb 12) and potentially accelerate as Spring volumes match or exceed prior year. It is expected that imports moving from Asia to the West Coast ports in the U.S. from November thought January will show a 30% increase year over year. This increase is spilling over to all U.S. ports with Gulf and East Coast ports also posting double-digit growth.
The main by-products on the Asia origin side, driven by this unprecedented demand, include container equipment shortages, overbooked vessels, and escalating freight rates. Shippers are being forced to accept alternative container sizes based on lack of container availability, pay for premium service levels to get vessel space released by ocean carriers, and are suffering delays from cargo ready date compared to actual vessel departure date, due to the overbooking situation.
At destination in North America, the unprecedented volume of import containers received at U.S. ports system-wide continues to compromise marine terminal space leading to further congestion issues and delays. Import distribution centers that typically receive much of this import volume for segregation and distribution are filled beyond capacity, further adding to the port congestion with a domino effect on trucking delays, increased truck turn-times and finally, rail congestion and delays. Trains and rail ramps are similarly experiencing increased dwell times and delays. There are many reports of containers stacked at inland rail ramps due to lack of chassis equipment which then prevents trains from deramping and unloading containers due to the lack of space.
It is expected that this current strong wave of imports will continue as long as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) forces North American consumers, in 2021, to spend their income on merchandise rather than on services such as dining, travel, and entertainment.
Noatum Logistics is working diligently on limiting these impacts for our customers. If you have any questions, please reach out to your Noatum Logistics representative.