Record high spot rates from Asia to North Europe and predictions of huge hikes for annual contract rates could lead to a rush of cancelled orders for next year.
Retailers in Europe are feeling the impact — with partial lockdown measures and high ocean freight rates impacting bottom lines.
Carriers are now regularly quoting upwards of $10,000 per 40ft HC for January shipments from China to the UK, in addition to steep cancellation fees.
There are also concerns in the forwarding community that customers will either refuse, or be unable, to pay all the extra charges being racked up by the supply chain disruptions.
In one instance, some 6,000 teu carried to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge several weeks ago, due to Ocean Alliance carriers skipping the heavily congested port of Felixstowe, are finally arriving at the London Thamesport Isle of Grain general cargo and container facility this week on two feeder vessels.
Communication by the carrier on the relay operation was described by one UK forwarder dealing with customs clearances as “disgraceful”, and another told The Loadstar he feared his boxes could be stuck at Thamesport until after Christmas.
The European Shippers’ Council and forwarding association CLECAT have urged the European Commission to follow the lead of the US Federal Maritime Commission and step up its scrutiny of carrier practices.