The Weekly Freight Report for May 20th, 2021
The Top 6 Stories in Freight
Here’s what’s happening this week:
- Shippers start planning for peak as inventory-to-sales ratio hit record low
- U.S. regulators don’t plan to intervene with souring ocean freight costs
- A fuel shortage is bad news in the midst of a tank driver shortage
- Shippers prepare to strap in for unfavorable market long haul
- The global supply chains being pushed to the brink of seizing up
- West Coast ports work to be clear by August
The hottest stories in freight can be found here, in the Weekly Freight Report:
1. Shippers start planning for peak as inventory-to-sales ratio hit record low
If we suggested shippers prepare for holiday peak seven months early any other year, they’d all laugh. But this year, it’s no joke. Freightwaves suggests you ‘worry about whether you’ll get what you want under the tree’ this year. Why? Because not only are containerized imports booming- but the retail inventory-to-sales ratio has sunk to a new all-time low. No inventory… booming volume… not to mention beyond squeezed capacity? This peak won’t be pretty for shippers who don’t prepare now. Get the details here.
2. U.S. regulators don’t plan to intervene with souring ocean freight costs
Spot ocean container rates are up triple digits year over year. And while many shippers expect rates must be nearing peak- there’s no evidence they’ve reached the ceiling. Freightwaves says a common response from shippers is that regulators will intervene if rates get too high- but that won’t happen in the U.S. The FMC says high freight prices are being caused by market forces, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Get the full story here.
3. A fuel shortage is bad news in the midst of a tank driver shortage
The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack… panic buying consumers… consumers going on much-needed vacations… and massive traffic disruptions across the country. It’s a bad combination, especially when you add in a tanker truck driver shortage. They’re saying this situation will ‘likely hit home for millions of American’s in a very personal way this summer’ as they experience higher prices and even shortages for not just gas… but also chemicals and food components hauled by tankers. Get the details here.
4. Shippers prepare to strap in for unfavorable market long haul
Shippers are preparing for the prospect that this less-favorable transportation market will last for several quarters. They’re starting by rethinking how they contract with their carriers of all types, across all modes and the methods they use to ship. And while they explore transloading options and seek new contract agreements for some sort of refuge, it’s clear as ever that premium shipping prices won’t be dissolving anytime soon. Get the details here.
5. Supply chains pushed to the brink of seizing up
Copper, iron ore and steel. Corn, coffee, wheat and soybeans. Lumber, semiconductors, plastic and cardboard for packaging. The world is seemingly low on all of it. And there are no signs of it dissipating. The global supply chain is being pushed to the brink of seizing up… and it’s getting uglier by the day. How ugly? Take a peek.
6. West Coast ports work to be clear by August
Could U.S. West Coast ports be back on schedule by August? They’re working toward it. Week over week less and less container ships are anchored… a sign in the right direction. Wait berths are declining as well. Volume, however, is not… and won’t be until further notice. But that doesn’t seem to be slowing down progress. In fact, the port officials are confident that they will have ‘few if any’ ships needed to wait at anchor by June 1. Get the full details here.
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