Even as containers are in short supply, empty containers are still spending around six weeks in depots, according to Container xChange, the online platform for container logistics.
“Container availability across China is still at a record low, while US ports are overwhelmed by a surge of shipping containers from Asia, full of products retailers are eager to get on shelves for the holidays,” the company said.
It said that due to the fastest increase in demand after months full of blank sailings, container availability for 40-foot high-cube containers (40HCs) is only at 0.05 CAx points compared to 0.63 at the same time last year, according to the Container Availability Index (CAI).
The CAI indicates how likely it is to find containers in a specific location. The CAx is the ratio between the surplus and the shortage of equipment per location using the demands and stocks information from the last two years.
The CAI is a value between 0 and 1. A CAI value of 1 means a location has a total surplus of boxes and a value of 0 indicates there are no free boxes in the location.
The US East Coast is usually a surplus location of equipment, with last year’s CAx value for 40-foot dry cargo container at 0.7.
This year, “the container availability dropped to 0.43 indicating actually less containers than needed,” the report said.
“Although containers are very much in need, they still spend on average 45 days empty in depots,” Container xChange said, citing its research with FraunhoferCML.
“Especially in regions with low container availability such as China and the US, the average is comparably high with 61 and 66 days compared to the global average of 45 days.”
The high standard deviation of 85 days in North America and 129 days across Asia indicates many cases where containers spend far more days inside depots than the average suggests, it continued.
This compares to 21 days on average in the Middle East and 23 days on average in Europe, which means it takes more than 30 extra days to move containers out of the depots in Asia and North America.
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