What is the best timing to actually book a shipment? When are the prices low and when are they high?
To answer this question we first have to differ between Sea and Air-shipments.
Shipping prices vary and depend on the tradelade, but there are different seasons in the freight forwarding industry. We will exemplify this at the tradelane Far East to Europe:
- The peak season is from mid September until the end of February. In September companies start booking their shipments for goods they want to sell during the Christmas season. Thus, prices start rising in September, since it takes at least 35 days to ship goods from Far East to Northern Europe, and prices normally find their peak in the "Golden Week" from the 1 until the 10th of October. After that, the prices lower insignificantly until they find another peak in January and February before and after Chinese New Year. Since it's not possible to catch any sailings almost in the whole Far East Region during this holiday everybody wants to ship their goods before or after Chinese New Year, which leads to sky-rocking prices.
- The low season is from the beginning of March until mid September. At the beginning of March the situation relaxes again and prices drop. From there on the prices stay constantly low in comparison until the beginning/mid of September, when prices rise again.
- The peak season is from mid September until the end of December. As you can see the air peak season is kind of the same as the sea peak season, although the prices raise in the beginning with a lower pace and find their super-peak normally in November. After Christmas prices normally relax a little bit and lower further in January.
- The low season is from the beginning of January until the end of August. As already mentioned prices normally drop in January, however before Chinese New Year you can observe an increase in prices again. During the other months prices stay constantly low in comparison.
- Since there is a higher demand before and after public holidays prices are normally higher in the affected countries.
- Apple release products in November which leads to sky-rocking Air prices since they have pre-booked space.
- Prices vary and might find exceptional peaks because of other external influences. For example: Sanctions on Iran lead to a higher oil prices and since vessels need oil it affected the shipping rates.
How much time should I calculate until the shipping takes places during these seasons?
During peak season it is important to plan ahead:
- When you want to fly your goods book 6-7 days in advance of the Cargo Ready Date.
- When you want to ship FCL containers book 14 days in advance of the Cargo Ready Date. Please also note that if you want to ship LCL the transit time will be 7-10 days longer than an for a FCL shipment.
- Avoid shipping 40 foot high cube containers, if possible -- these are more likely to be rolled.
- Ports and warehouses will be extremely congested -- expect more time to load/unload at origin and destination.
- Western Europe holidays like Easter will affect the total transit time of the shipment, please plan with delays and plan accordingly.
During low season:
- When you want to fly your goods book 2-3 days in advance of the Cargo Ready Date.
- When you want to ship FCL containers book 5-7 days in advance of the Cargo Ready Date. Please also note that if you want to ship LCL the transit time will be 7-10 days longer than an for a FCL shipment.
- Book as early as possible, however book reasonably, which means don't book 3 weeks or more in advance.