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Retailer inventories could drag US-China box rates lower

Port of Long Beach Containers in the Port of Long beach
Falling demand and high retailer inventories could bring US-China container rates even lower, according to a supply chain analyst.

Shifl said that US retailers are sitting with excess inventory and in many cases still awaiting orders which have suffered delays due to lockdowns in China.

The negative factors have already helped China-US container spot rates fall significantly from their January 2022 peaks.

From a $17,000 per feu high in January, China-US West Coast settled to $7,000 per feu since April, according to Shifl. China-US East Coast spot rates fell from $19,000 per feu to settle around $9,000 per feu from March. Rates on both coasts are expected to maintain similar levels through July 2022, said Shifl.

“Market reports have indicated that ocean freight rates on long term contracts have increased substantially in 2022, overtaking container spot freight rates for the moment, but it is dependent on what happens in China,” said Shifl founder and CEO, Shabsie Levy.

Shifl released its commentary to mark the release of its free ocean spot rate index SHIFEX, an index based on actual spot freight rates quoted and/or paid for moving shipments port to port on the Trans-Pacific route.