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International Forwarding Association Blog » News » Coronavirus Outbreak May Lead to a Shipping Crisis
Maritime Shipping

Coronavirus Outbreak May Lead to a Shipping Crisis

More and more retailers in North America and Europe are shutting down, which may lead to a significant decline in shipped volumes. This is mainly the result of social lockdowns that are enforced in many countries.

How Maritime Shipping Is Affected

Analyst Sealntelligence Consulting explained that a 10 percent decline in shipments is expected, resulting in just 80 million teu processed in ports and 17 million teu shipped by fleets across the world.

In addition to stores shutting down, restrictions in place at ports have further impacted global container shipping. Some ports have even banned ships from countries with coronavirus cases while others have shut down completely. Ports where staff tested positive shut down temporarily. European logistics providers already anticipated a decline in shipments due to the growth of coronavirus cases in China but with outbreaks all over the world, global container shipping is now seriously affected.

Industry experts explain that purchase orders made to Chinese manufacturers increased over a short period but then demand declined as a result of outbreaks throughout Europe.

Coronavirus Outbreak May Lead to a Shipping Crisis

Online Orders

While global container shipping has experienced a decline, online retailers report a surge in small shipments. More and more people rely on online orders, including food and household goods. With lockdowns and restrictions on movement, many people are staying home across Europe. They still need food, cleaning supplies, and other essentials and are increasingly ordering online.

This has put a strain on retailers, however. In the United Kingdom, for example, Tesco announced that online orders would be limited to 80 items each. The goal is to deliver to as many consumers as possible. Retailers will also prioritize deliveries to vulnerable customers by using a government database. Tesco also asked customers to personally come to stores if they were able to because they were operating at full capacity with regard to online deliveries. In this way, more slots will be available to vulnerable customers. This is the reality for many patients with chronic conditions such as asthma or cystic fibrosis who are terrified by the thought of going out.

Patients with cystic fibrosis, for example, need food equal to 3000 to 4000 calories a day just to stay alive but they struggle to find free slots. They are forced to mix with people. The same holds for people who are blind, handicapped, or have serious heart or other conditions. Increased demand has also put a stain on the platforms of big retail stores such as Ocado and Asda which are struggling to cope with a surge in demand. Their booking systems are already flooded by virtual queues.

Many companies have started placing restrictions on the number of items that can be ordered. There are also restrictions on how often customers are allowed to order. Some retail stores such as Ocado asked customers to show more restraint as we don’t face shortage of food or other essentials. They also announced plans to increase supplies.