After peak season hit the ports of Los Angeles and Chicago in September, they are now seeing falling container availability. According to the Container Availability Index (CAx), especially the 40HC stands to continue their substantial drop. 

The peak season has hit the US ports hard as the surge of containers has been larger than many expected. The high amount of incoming containers have put ports such as Los Angeles under immense pressure.

The many containers arriving at the ports must be transported to terminals and warehouses. For that, they need chassis. Chassis that many places are now in shortage, creating congestion issues. Containers stuck at the ports also mean that many operations are put to a halt. Something, that also influences the container availability.

Let’s first have a look at the Port of Los Angeles. In the Container Availability Index (CAx), we can see how the container availability followed the peak season until the Port of Los Angeles got congested. Around the same time, the availability began decreasing.

When the values in CAx are above 0.5 it indicates that there is a surplus of equipment. Below 0.5 it indicates there is a deficit of containers.

A short peak

Since week 42, the availability of 20DCs has dropped in the port of Los Angeles. Now two weeks later, in week 44, the availability continues to decrease and has a value of 0.38. We see a similar pattern when it comes to the 40HCs.

Availability of 40HC containers in Port of Los Angeles has reached 0.05 in week 44.

The 40HCs are also dropping in availability, and have been since week 39 where the availability peaked – albeit still being in a deficit. In the past four weeks, the availability has gone from 0.34 to 0.05 in week 44. A tendency is likely to continue the following week.

In contrast to the other container types, the availability of the 40DCs has been going up in the past few weeks and is expected to increase from 0.44 in week 44 to 0.49 in the coming week.

Temporary – but not over yet

What we’re seeing in the Port of Los Angeles isn’t just happening there but also at other ports along the West Coast.

But we’re also seeing a similar pattern in Chicago. Here, the 40HCs have seen a massive drop since week 40. Just as with the 40HCs in Los Angeles, the container availability also hit a peak in mid-September and was at a surplus with a value of 0.58. Now, in week 44, the availability continues to drop and is at 0.22. According to the forecast, it will decrease further to a value of 0.2 in week 45. Where it in Los Angeles stands to drop to 0.35 the same week.

Availability of equipment has been gradually declining in Port of Chicago since week 40.

Looking at the availability of 20DCs in Chicago it has a value of 0.13 in week 44. A value that will fall to 0.08 in week 45. In Los Angeles, it stands to fall to 0.03.

In contrast to the availability of 40DCs in Los Angeles, the availability of 40DCs at the Port of Chicago is expected to go from 0.02 in week 44 to 0.01 in week 45.

With warehouses still backed up and the slow release of containers, it will take time before the container availability sees a large increase again. However, the current surge of containers at the ports in the US will lower when the peak season comes to an end. Something, many expect to happen in November – opening up for faster and easier work on the docks, ports, terminals, warehouses.

Container xChange’s Container Availability Index (CAx) takes millions of data points from transactions on xChange and tracking data that is globally available. All these data are considered and part of the forecasts of the availability of equipment for most of the biggest port locations.

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