State of Logistics: May 15, 2020

Patrick O'Loughlin May 15

Coronavirus by the Numbers

United States

  • 1.47 Million confirmed cases
  • Over 87,000 deaths
  • Over 256,000 recovered


  • 4.48 Million confirmed cases
  • Over 304,000 deaths
  • Over 1.61 Million recovered

Economic Effects

  • According to the Commerce Department, retail sales (includes purchases at stores, restaurants, and online) are down 16.4% in April from the previous month. It is the steepest month to month drop since 1992.
  • The Federal Reserve said industrial production dropped 11.2% for April. This is the steepest drop on record in over a century.
  • Clothing Store sales down 90% year over year in April
  • Department store, bars and restaurants, and sporting goods sales down nearly 50% year over year in April
  • Online retail sales are up 20% compared to April 2019
  • Furniture sales down 58.7% from last month
  • Electronics sales down 60.6% from last month
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Some analysts have said that April has been the worst month of economic impact for the Coronavirus but are optimistic it will improve going forward.

Are Ocean Shipping Lines Pulling a Fast One on Us?

A.P. Moeller-Maersk, a shipping line that controls almost 20% of the world’s ocean container market, expects volume to fall by 25% or more this quarter.
Maersk posted a slight profit in Q1. They were able to salvage profits by cancelling sailings and raising freight rates about 5%. In total, they cancelled 90 sailings in Q1 and expect to cancel another 140 sailings.

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There is a valuable lesson in this news and that is that when times are tough in the ocean shipping world, the large ocean carriers of the world will find a way to pass on the economic damages to their clients by raising prices and reducing capacity. In the process, shippers are expected to either adjust their prices or pass on this added cost to the consumer.

Meanwhile, several shipments can be delayed multiple weeks as companies like Maersk will wait to fill the ship for it to leave. If you are unfortunate enough, your booking will be rolled over another week as the ocean carrier overbooked the ship on the route they haven’t sailed out from in 3-4 weeks.

That being said I have tremendous respect for what the Ocean Carrier’s do, but it is tough to have compassion when profits take an overwhelming front seat to providing a reliable service.