Empty Container Shortages Due to Reduced Imports
The shipping industry is feeling the impacts of what many expect to be an upcoming recession. People in North America are buying less. Imports have decreased, which has led to shortages of empty containers.
When import demand drops, shipping lines have historically accelerated blank sailings. The reduction in the number of ship calls creates a demand for space, which helps to keep shipping rates from dropping too much.
You may have noticed that there are fewer empty containers available at the off-docks, and more available at the ports. Truckers typically prefer picking up at off-docks, because they don’t require reservations and are generally closer to the transloading facilities.
Here’s the reason: 60-70% of all imports go to Eastern Canada, which generally has more imports than exports. Most of those empty containers are returned to the West by rail, and all those go directly to the ports. So that’s where the supply of empty containers end up.