The increase in the number of cancelled sailings indicates a worrying trend in consumer demand, analysts anticipate.
A senior analyst at Xeneta has said in an interview with CNBC that there are usually very few blank sailings in the run-up to Chinese holiday as shippers stock up on their inventories. This pre-New-Year time, marine carriers blanked more than six times the number of sailings on the main Asia to US West Coast corridor as they did in the equivalent period of 2019, according to Xeneta and Sea-Intelligence.
As might be expected, some spot freight index advances between the Western and Chinese New Years were temporary, driven by increased importers stocking up ahead of Chinese factory holiday closures.
According to the Drewry WCI spot index, freight rates fell in week 3 on all key shipping destinations from Asia. Delivery to the USAC ports fell by 5%, to the North Sea ports of Europe - by 4%.
Asia-Europe rates are already 2-3 times lower than levels prior to the April 2020 rate upsurge. On routes to North America, rates are still higher than before the crisis.
The rates on transportation routes linking the European and North American markets continue to slowly decrease. Over the month since the beginning of the last ten days of December, the value of the sub-index for the Rotterdam-New York route has decreased by 4%, on the return route to Rotterdam - by 3%. Nevertheless, rates so far remain higher than April 2020 by 5 and almost 3 times in this segment, respectively.