When will shipping go back to normal? It’s a question weighing heavily on the minds of shippers and transportation providers alike.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and hypothesize that you, dear shipper, aren’t exactly enjoying this environment of high rates and unknown transit times. And on our end, we don’t like watching shippers sweat.
Given this environment, we wanted to share a few recent predictions about the future of freight, both for 2022 and in the coming years.
Let’s start with a few economic predictions. According to the International Monetary Fund, economic growth is expected to hit 4.9% in 2022. At the same time, trade volumes should grow by 6.0% this year. Meanwhile, the World Bank predicts that world GDP will expand by 4.1%,and trade volumes will increase 6.3% for the rest of this year.
You may be thinking that that sounds a little low. If so, that puts you in the same camp as the economists who made these predictions! Both the IMF and the World Bank predict that the possibility of future COVID outbreaks and supply chain problems will constrict future economic growth.
Given that, you might expect that import volumes would start to decrease. But the world (and maybe, especially the shipping world) is rarely straightforward like that.
Some predictions are relatively optimistic. The CEO of Maersk, for example, believes that shipping conditions could normalize in the second half of this year.
That’s a scenario that we can get on board with. Unfortunately, that prediction isn’t unanimous across the industry. At the most recent Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference, another executive “[conditions] will not get better, and 2023 will be worse.”
One final opinion is that future supply chain morass could come in waves. This assessment is based on the many and various disruptions that have been sweeping across the world as of late - not just COVID itself, but port shutdowns in China, political instability in Ukraine and Russia, and ongoing uncertainty over labor availability.
Despite this precarious environment, consumer demand marches on. Although retail sales have recently started to decline, they are still considerably higher than 2019 levels. The demand spigot is still running at full force.
The combination of high demand and low transportation capacity can leave shippers in a bind. But one way to navigate through the turmoil is to work with a freight forwarder.
Partnering with the right freight forwarder can help in a couple of ways. First, a logistics partner can advise you on which mode to use and when. Deciding when to import with ocean versus air isn’t always straightforward. For example, in 2021, ocean and air shipping prices climbed, but ocean dwell times skyrocketed. That can turn air freight into a viable shipping option when shippers might not have considered it otherwise.
It’s equally important to work with a logistics partner who maintains communication. Delays happen, but a reliable freight forwarder will let you know about shipping status changes right away. Bonus points if they game plan a solution with you if or when your cargo hits a delay.
TLDR: it’s impossible to know precisely when shipping conditions will stabilize, but it’s (clearly) not happening as quickly as any of us would like. In the meantime, working with a freight forwarder can help you navigate through the storm, and here is where Able Freight can help! Message us for any freight questions or inquiries!