Shipping Container Factories See Surge in Deamand

September 25, 2020

Shipping containers have become an important economic indicator, with economists analyzing who is buying them, when, and where to determine the international flow of imports and exports. Shipping rates have surged recently, breaking records for imports from China to the U.S. Most economists believed that this was a temporary surge, driven by preparation for a holiday season dominated by online shopping, as well as businesses trying to build up inventories in case a second wave of coronavirus disrupts supply chains this fall. The expectation was that rates would taper off by the end of the year.

Three of the largest container equipment lessors recently held a virtual conference for investors, where they expect demand to persist beyond year’s end. The lessors noted that almost all of the world’s shipping containers are built by a handful of Chinese factories. These factories are sold out through the end of January, and are now taking orders for February and March. Triton, one of the world’s largest container lessors, attributes the surge to a shift in consumers. Faced with the ongoing pandemic, consumers are spending less on services and experiences, and purchasing goods, particularly for their homes. If shipping rates are a bellwether for the economy as a whole, as many economists argue, then the end of this year and beginning of next year may see strong growth.

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