Are Shipping Containers Really That Hard to Come By?

November 4, 2021 10:22 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Is there really a shortage of shipping containers? You may have heard on the news that we’re experiencing an unusual shortage of shipping containers, thanks to the pandemic and issues with the global supply chain. The reports are indeed true: there’s a shipping container shortage in Brazoria, TX and beyond.

Here’s an overview of what’s happening and why the shipping container shortage continues, almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where are all the shipping containers?

You’ve undoubtedly heard about global supply chain issues affecting everything from toilet paper to boba tea supplies. Since shipping containers are necessary for transporting goods—whether across the ocean or across Texas—the more delays we experience, the fewer containers are available for shipping, storage and other uses.

Right now, there are thousands of containers piled up in inland depots and cargo ports. Some are even still on cargo ships. As the pandemic spread, lockdowns halted production and some shipping lines. Shipping containers were stopped at ports, while fewer cargo ships were sent out.

This had two major effects. First, imports and exports were halted, because no one was producing new goods, and there weren’t enough workers to load and unload cargo containers. Second, empty containers weren’t picked up.

While Asian countries were the first hit, they were also first to recover. By the time the pandemic spread to Europe and North America, lockdowns affected shipping lines from ports to inland ground transportation. Containers started piling up at ports and depots because there simply were not enough people to keep the shipping containers moving.

Right now, North America is at a 40 percent imbalance: for every 100 containers that arrive on the continent, only 40 percent are shipped back. The remaining 60 percent are piling up as workers and shipping companies struggle to handle the backlog. What makes it worse is that shipping is at an all-time high, and shipping prices are surging too. There’s significant pressure to send empty containers back to Asia so the shipping industry can recover and continue operations.

All of this results in a shipping container shortage, which affects nearly everyone on the planet.

Why can’t you just buy new ones?

You might wonder why shipping companies and places like A Mobile Box can’t just buy new shipping containers. The answer is that new container production dramatically fell in 2019 and 2020, and wasn’t expected to even start again until midway through 2021. On top of that, it can take months to produce new containers, especially at the volume needed. Shipping container manufacturers are taking advantage of the high demand, too: new shipping containers have more than doubled in price since the beginning of the pandemic.

As you can see, the shipping container shortage doesn’t just affect Brazoria, TX—it’s a problem for everyone around the world. Now that we have a COVID-19 vaccine, more workers are returning to the workforce, but it could still be a while before we see the bottlenecks end.

A Mobile Box provides commercial and residential storage options. Call today to check availability.

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