One of the current trends in shipping is that the cost of moving a container from China to the USA has more than doubled in recent years. This trend is expected to continue to fluctuate due to changes in the commodities markets. This means that the past advantage of having products produced overseas and quickly shipped here to the US is quickly disappearing.
Air freight has been a preferred method for expedited movement of freight from east to west. However the cost of air freight has become unaffordable for many products. In addition, with the financial state of the airlines continuing to be a mess, the cost of air freight is likely to continue increasing. This means that over-night or two day service must be avoided whenever possible.
Domestic freight rates will continue to fluctuate, but will surely follow any spikes or long-term increases in the cost of diesel fuel. This means that the promotional use of heavier products – wood, paper, and glass, ceramic and metal substrates – will need to be evaluated closely due to the increased associated transit costs.
The bottom line of these trends means that prior planning and lead time have become important once again. In the past 10 years, the lead times needed to produce promotional products and to get them shipped has been greatly reduced. We can still produce “stuff” overnight and have it back to you in a matter of days. However, it will be much more expensive. Save yourself some stress and money – give yourself at least 6 weeks lead time for projects in the last half of 2009.