International Removals in Focus: Navigating the Latest Trends from BAR’s December Shipping Market Update

The British Association of Removers (BAR) has released its latest shipping market update for December, highlighting key trends and changes in the industry. As we approach the year’s end, several developments are shaping the way we manage international moves.

State of the Market: Steady Freight Rates Amid Operational Shifts

The summer months saw a consistent decrease in freight rates, but this trend now appears to have stabilized. Shipping lines have been actively implementing operational changes to counter these falling rates, and these efforts are starting to show results.

One significant impact for those planning a move is the increased notice required to secure space on a vessel. Shipping lines are now advising a 4-6 weeks’ notice period, especially for destinations like Jebel Ali (Dubai) and the wider Middle Eastern region. This change is expected to extend to other ports and trades, posing potential challenges even for BAR members who generally benefit from allocation agreements with shipping lines.

Preparedness for Potential Delays

With shipping lines managing their volumes more stringently, there is an increased likelihood of containers being rolled – left off their intended vessel and moved to a later one. This situation is beyond the control of movers and necessitates customers to plan their moving dates in advance and allow sufficient time for bookings.

Moreover, shipping lines are employing various measures to offset falling freight rates, such as canceling entire vessel schedules or dropping routine destination ports. This results in slower voyage times and arbitrary last-minute re-bookings, adding to the unpredictability of transit times.

Market Availability and UK Haulage Improvements

The acceptance of container bookings for export shipments from the UK has improved, with a noticeable drop in demand. However, there is an average acceptance of bookings for eastbound trades (Asia, Oceania, India, Middle East), with increased notice periods and potential delays due to cancelled sailings and slow steaming.

Conversely, westbound trades (USA, Canada, Caribbean, Latin America) are currently experiencing good acceptance rates, with improved unloading times at US ports. However, the high demand during peak season may lead to a shortage of empty containers.

Currency Exchange Variations and Fuel Cost Changes

Shipping Lines usually quote container-freight rates and ancillary charges in foreign currencies, but these are payable in GBP at the exchange rate applicable on the ship’s sailing date. Therefore, customers should be prepared for potential adjustments in the final invoice versus the initial quotation.

Additionally, with ongoing energy supply issues, there’s a likelihood of increases in ships fuel (bunkering) costs, which will impact overall freight costs.

Navigating Through Challenges

Port strikes in the UK, complexities surrounding the shipment of Lithium-Ion batteries, and the imbalance of trade routes continue to be challenges in the shipping industry. Customers are advised to be aware of these factors that could impact their moving plans.

In conclusion, while the shipping market is experiencing a period of adjustment, BAR continues to work diligently to provide its members with the most current information and guidance to navigate these changes effectively. We encourage customers to maintain open communication with their chosen mover and plan ahead to accommodate these industry shifts.

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