What a difference a month makes. As we reported 5 weeks ago, February container volume from China had dropped 75% from the month prior. At the time of writing, ports in the US had started feeling the impact, as well, with ocean-borne imports falling by half in February compared to the previous four months.
Now, as COVID-19 has unleashed itself aggressively onto our own shores, we see that shipping activities at Chinese ports have started increasing as a result of the stringent efforts of the Chinese government to slow the spread of the virus.
We see this trend corroborated in our own platform data. In the month of March, we saw an increase in container volume shipping out of China to a level more in line with historic averages. Based on tracked loads in FourKites, China saw shipping volumes increase close to 94% of its pre-COVID volume in the month of March. Shanghai, which had seen an even steeper decline (78%) in container shipment volume in February than the rest of China, also saw marked improvement over the course of March, with shipment volume close to 93% of pre-COVID numbers.
We see a negative statistical correlation of 0.5 between active Corona cases in China and ocean activity in China during the months of February and March. This substantiates the view that as incidence of new COVID cases declines, trade is rebounding nicely.
Specifically with regard to movements from China to the US, FourKites data shows a 64% increase in ocean shipments in March compared to China’s lockdown period in February. These shipments were seen predominantly in the CPG, electronics and pharmaceutical industries.
Ocean visibility has never been more important than during this current pandemic. FourKites will continue monitoring our ocean data for the latest trends and insights. In the meantime, contact us if you’d like to learn more about our ocean visibility solution, which we’re currently offering free for 60 days.