The shape of booking volumes leading into the Golden Week
Overall volumes have declined leading up to Golden Week. This is generally consistent across industries with no strong commodity-specific outliers. Normally, we would see an increase before the Golden Week holiday to move product before the break, but that has not been the case this year. The continued blanking of sailings by the carriers prior to the Golden Week were an indicator of volume declines.
Expectation for cargo volumes after the Golden Week
Historically, cargo volumes after the Golden Week tend to slow. Demand for vessel space normally decreases post holidays like the Golden Week and the Chinese Lunar New Year. Beyond this anticipated pause, this year there are no signs of a year-end surge of exports. Ocean liners indicate that the US, Europe, and Chinese economies remain bearish, and this continues to affect consumer spending. In meetings with ocean carriers and coloaders locally prior to Golden Week, their expressed Q4 volume forecasts were relatively pessimistic.
Experience with ocean carriers’ rotation cancellations and vessel blanking strategies
Carriers have regularly been blanking sailings since the Covid pandemic, so shippers and forwarders have become rather used to it. October sailings from Asia to Europe are being cut to below-demand levels in a final attempt by carriers to push up rates before the start of the slack season. On the trans-Pacific, THE Alliance (Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Yang Ming and HMM) recently announced the suspension of their PN3 Asia to North America loop “until further notice”. Given the general market softness, this has not posed a significant issue for us though in terms of cargo throughput.