Recent retailer reports of excess inventory and falling sales for certain goods suggest that the dip in ocean volumes and falling container rates were not driven solely by the drop in China’s manufacturing.
If these signs reflect a real shift in consumer spending then the possible surge of imports as Shanghai reopens and the feared congestion and chaos of peak season may not materialize.
The pandemic is waning in the west and inflation is pushing money to necessities, but indicators are conflicting: National Retail Federation projections for imports through the summer remain extremely elevated, and ocean spot rate futures and contract rates are likewise high.
So, what should you make of all this?
Changes in inventory and spending are clear signs that things are changing.
But, there is likely enough demand and congestion to increase delays and ocean rates as Shanghai reopens and peak season progresses, though perhaps not to the extremes seen last year.
Taken together, this mix of sometimes competing indications may signal the start of a gradual return to a new normal.
Asia-US rates for this week:
|FBX Lane||Global||Asia – US West Coast||Asia – US East Coast||Asia – North Europe||North Europe – US East Coast|
|* Compared to the corresponding week in 2021|