While everyone is busy enjoying their summer, the peak holiday shipping season is rapidly approaching. Whether or not you are in retail, peak season can affect your shipping plans as space gets tight and bookings require longer lead times.
To keep you current on issues that may impact your import/export plans, we have prepared a quick summary of what to watch out for. So sit back, enjoy that cool drink while you can, and relax. This fall promises to be a real challenge for shippers.
USWC Dock Strike – All Quiet on the Western Front
In what has, so far, turned out to be a non-event, negotiations between the Longshoreman’s Union (ILWU) and West Coast port operators continue. Both sides have pledged to negotiate in good faith and avoid any service disruptions, while the press blackout continues. The lLWU continues to operate without a contract and dock workers remain on the job.
The consensus on the street is that a strike is unlikely at this time, though there are never any guarantees.
However, even the possibility of a strike has resulted in many shippers accelerating their shipping plans, which has only served to further strain port capacity, especially with regards to trucking. Trucks and chassis are in especially short supply Southern California and New York.
Truck & Chassis Shortage Worsens Nationwide
Between the potential dock strike and the ongoing, nationwide truck/ chassis shortage, getting containers in and out of the harbor has become very challenging for all forwarders and shippers.
At the nation’s busiest port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, many ocean carriers are unable to schedule pickup or drop-off of containers without a lead time of 10 business days due to severe driver and equipment shortages. Please plan your loads accordingly.
This situation is expected to continue or worsen as the peak holiday shipping season approaches.
Port Congestion in Europe Delays Imports
As if port conditions in the United States were not challenging enough, we have recently been advised by many of our partners in Europe that port congestion in Northern European ports (Bremen, Rotterdam, Antwerp, etc.) is bad and getting worse in advance of peak season.
In many cases, ocean arrivals/departures are being delayed by up to one week as ports struggle to keep up with volume. Once again, plan your timing on critical shipments accordingly.
Apple iPhone 6 Launch
Many consumers are very excited about the rumored September release of the new iPhone 6 and other new Apple products ready to roll-out. Shippers and forwarders, not so much.
As with previous releases of new Apple phones, the Cupertino, CA based company has a habit of monopolizing air freight space out of China, as they struggle to get products to market in time for the September release and subsequent holiday season. Their volume is significant enough that it moves the needle on cargo space availability and raises rates. Again, plan your shipping needs accordingly and book as early as possible. September could get very tight.