To say that there’s a shipping container shortage, it almost sounds like someone’s pulling your leg. And yet, here we are. People all around the world are struggling to find enough shipping containers to meet their needs.

It’s not like a shipping container is a one-use item, and it’s hard to lose something so big, so where are all the shipping containers going?

As with pretty much everything else going topsy-turvy with the global economy lately, it comes down to the long-term effects of the pandemic.

Even as we’re opening the world up again, getting back to business, we’re still in the process of slowly restarting everything, and the distribution of shipping containers has been slowed down by restrictions placed on the industry.

How the Shipping Industry Works

In a normal year, shipping works like this: China sends a bunch of cargo to the UK or the US or somewhere in these containers. The country receiving the goods then empties the containers and sends them back.

China was hit by the pandemic first, and so, they were the first to recover. Meaning that they were able to get back to shipping things overseas earlier than most countries. But the receiving countries would then not be able to ship anything back to China.

concession stand
In other words, shipping containers are out there, they didn’t disappear. But they spent most of 2020 and 2021 piling up at ports around the world.

As restrictions start to ease (with a few hiccups along the way), we’re finally starting to send shipping containers back to China and other countries that deal heavily in export, but we’ve got about two years of containers stacked up at ports around the world.

An estimated six million shipping containers are currently in use by the global shipping industry. So that’s a whole lot of boxes to move before everything gets back to normal.

How This Affects You

This is all relevant to the shipping industry, of course. If you’re looking for a shipping container to serve as a mobile office, secure storage or refrigeration, you might wonder what this has to do with you.

Well, if you have a source like Aztec Container, the answer is: not much.

Prices have gone up across the industry simply because these containers are getting harder to source at a bulk level. But when we talk about a shortage, we’re talking about companies that need to get ahold of hundreds of containers so that they can ship thousands and thousands of flatscreen DVDs or mattresses or other goods.

Finding one or two shipping containers for sale so that you can customize it into an office, concession stand, emergency storage or even a restaurant, that’s a whole other deal.

The trickle-down effect of the shipping container shortage is only that prices have gone up a bit. But, as it turns out, a shipping container shortage actually affects the prices of just about everything. The shipping industry has been considerably slowed down, which means there are less goods available in receiving countries, which means that scarcity is driving up cost, and that means both cost of doing business and sticker price.

If you’re looking for custom shipping containers for sale, those are still available. While many shipping companies are having a hard time sourcing these units, that’s only because they need to buy hundreds of containers at a time. For those of us building tiny homes or coffee shops or looking to create shipping container offices, there are enough boxes left to go around.

And of course, we’re really talking about two different things here, aren’t we? Once you put a door and a window in a shipping container, shipping companies like Maersk Line don’t have much use for it anymore.

The shortage won’t last forever. The world is getting back on its feet, and that’s something that you can say with confidence, now, not with your fingers crossed. But in the meantime, we’re still managing the fallout.

Although Aztec Container has enough shipping containers in stock, the prices have gone up significantly. Aside from price increases, the shortage shouldn’t affect those of us outside the shipping industry all that much.

If you’re not shopping for hundreds of these boxes at a time, you should be able to find what you’re looking for.

For more information, contact us today.

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