Trans-Pacific Spot Rates Swelled At The End of October

Late October saw spot rates from Asia to the US East and West coasts increase for the first time in two months, extending this year's peak season as importers work to dodge a general rate increase (GRI) slated to begin this month.

The spot rate last week for shipping a 40-foot container from Shanghai to the East Coast was $2,075, an increase of 18.2 percent from the week prior. The West Coast rate was $1,512 per FEU, up 10.7 percent from the week prior, according to the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index published by Journal of Commerce. However, compared with late October 2016, the East Coast rate was down 27.1 percent and the West Coast rate was down 38.1 percent compared to the same week last year.

Import volumes swelled last week as retailers attempt to have their final shipments of holiday merchandise received in the United States by early November so the products will be on store shelves for the Black Friday sales. Some carriers had announced general rate increases (GRIs) effective Nov. 1st, which could also have contributed for the late October volume surge. Carriers were unable to enforce the last two GRIs because the ships still had space. Their ability to do so with this November GRI indicates vessel utilization rates are near full capacity.