Despite high inflation and increasing interest rates, retail sales volumes in the US have remained remarkably resilient. Retail sales adjusted for inflation have only fallen marginally compared to the peak during 2021/2022. In the US, they fell by 1.8% compared to the peak in April 2022. Although it has shown some recent improvement, consumer sentiment in the US remains near the all-time lows recorded during 2022. We believe that it may improve during 2023 if/when inflation recedes and interest rates peak and that this could fuel a rebound in container volumes.
Combined Los Angeles/Long Beach imports totaled 504,377 TEUs in February. The only month in recent years the two ports handled fewer combined imports since March 2020. Los Angeles and Long Beach imports are still sinking.
> Vessels waiting time in USWC ports now is nearly back to normal with a 1-day delay; while USEC ports vessel waiting time is also down to 2-3 days
> Equipment is generally at a healthy level except for MSC which is running out of 20’GP lately due to its good 20’ rate.
Capacity-wise, COSCO, CMA, and ZIM have recently upsized their vessel capacity in Asia to US Gulf sand USEC services for increasing USEC demand from Southeast Asia.
Rate-wise, as the new contract year is coming in May, all carriers are trying to push up the GRI in mid-Apr, aiming for a higher rate level, for one year fixed deal.
Blank Sailing Updates:
PSW: Average 9% capacity cut
PNW: Alternative service keeps on blanking every 2 weeks. We see weekly around 12% space cut
AWS: Less blank sailing happened in USEC, but still at 7% in the weekly average
(Note: Carriers are monitoring the market situation and may implement additional blank sailing to maintain the rate level)
Recommendations: Be aware of double rolls caused by alternative week blank sailing.