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Retailers are locking in expensive shipping contracts that will likely outlast the pandemic

Cargo ships dock beside cranes at the MSC container terminal at the port of Valencia, Spain.
REUTERS/Heino Kalis
  • Nicolás Rivero
By Nicolás Rivero

Tech Reporter

Published Last updated on

Retailers are desperate to restock their depleted inventories as the holiday shopping season approaches and global supply chains remain in disarray. In their quest to find a consistent, reliable way to import goods, some companies have locked themselves into expensive schemes that could keep freight rates—and potentially consumer prices—inflated even after the current supply chain chaos dies down.

Shippers ink expensive, long-term contracts

Retailers want to avoid paying spot rates—the one-off prices for companies buying unplanned, last-minute space on a container ship—which have soared during the pandemic. Aside from being expensive, spot shipping is also an unreliable way to move goods, because companies can’t always find a ship that will sell them ad hoc cargo space when they need it.

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