The Christmas period will be fruitful for the US container shipping market but not for its European sibling, according to analytics platform Xeneta.
The company predicts that high consumer confidence and strong job growth in the States will benefit the US container industry.
The Washington DC-based National Retail Federation also takes this view, and has forecast container import growth of 13% in October as shops begin stocking for the Thanksgiving-Christmas rush.
However, Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund said the European market is unlikely to perform as well.
He said: “Stubbornly high unemployment, sitting at 9.1% in the Eurozone, combined with Brexit uncertainty and the sluggish growth of several large economies are factors combining to give the lowest scores in the EU economic confidence index since 2009.
“Not surprisingly, those who are unemployed, under-employed, or afraid they soon will be one of those two things, aren’t in the mood to spend too much on discretionary retail items.
“That weak confidence and demand naturally hits the carriers.”
Xeneta pointed to Maersk’s decision to decrease capacity on its Asia-Europe routes by 10% as proof that this impact is already being felt, although Berglund said such behaviour is just a short term fix and that carriers must hope that broader economic factors will correct the supply/demand balance.
Freight rates also correspond with the forecast, and Xeneta’s data showed that between July-September 2017 short-term rates for a 40-foot container on the Asia-Europe route declined by 10% to US$1,633, while in the US rates rose by 13% to US$1611.