Some ocean shipping rates collapsing, but real price relief is months away

Prices in the most volatile segment of ocean shipping are collapsing, but top retailers like Walmart and Home Depot should not expect relief until the spring contract renegotiation season, industry experts said.

Spot rates, which cover anywhere from 10% to 40% of ocean container shipments and are considered a key indicator of the industry’s health, are in free fall as recession looms and the pandemic-fueled U.S. import bubble deflates.

The cost to send a container from Asia to the United States on the demand-sensitive spot market has tumbled more than 80% from its September peak above $20,000 for a 40-foot container, according to freight booking platform Freightos.

Stacked containers on ship and dockside

Stacked containers are shown as ships unload their cargo at the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November

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