With the shipping rush for Christmas 2007 due to start picking up again now we are half way through the year there is a real possibility of a meltdown on the container availability from China back to Europe. Effecting both 20foot and 40foot containers with the main problem being, simply the supply is out stripping demand. Booking times are increasing to 3-4weeks for containers and some lines are unwilling to accept large bookings because they feel they would risk compromising their service quality to the shipper. While rates are in decline for years now they are showing signs of increasing with lines implementing peak rate surcharges and other various surcharges.
Compounding the problem has been shippers over loading 20ft containers which has resulted in container ships sailing without being fully loaded to container capacity due being loaded to their maximum weight capacity. This is bad from both the shipping line point in terms of lost money and other shippers in having to weight for the next vessel. Most shipping lines are now introducing heavy surcharges on 20fts for ones which weigh more than 20tonnes and in some cases 15tonnes to try and address this issue.
So the message is if you are interested in shipping from China back to the UK get it done sooner then later otherwise you might end up with an empty stocking this Christmas