The global shipping container shortage has made it harder and more expensive to buy commercial shipping containers in the United States, but your business won’t necessarily face the same challenges when you rent instead.
Freight container prices have skyrocketed at all stages of the supply chain, from manufacturing to retail. Meanwhile, the shortage has made it difficult for storage container companies to increase their inventory. These factors have made it more expensive and difficult for you to find the steel containers you need at an affordable price, costing you more time, money and stress than you should have to pay.
In this article, we’ll explain the global shipping container shortage and why you should rent commercial shipping containers.
Low production and high demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic started a global shipping container shortage in fall 2020. Shipping container manufacturers are still struggling to increase production enough to match demand.
The pandemic affected China first, slowing production for the first five months of 2020. Because China makes 90% of the world’s supply of ISO containers, this caused global supply to fall. Meanwhile, the shipping industry saw an unexpected boom in the middle of the year. As the demand for freight containers soared, the price of a standard 20-foot ISO container doubled.
To top it off, shipping companies are holding onto freight containers for longer than normal, further reducing the number available for sale.
Typically, manufacturers lease out the Conex boxes to shipping companies for global trade. The box returns to its owner once the lease is up, and it gets leased out again. After several years, they’re sold at ports to be repurposed for storage, mobile offices, fire training structures, container farms and countless other uses.
Due to the freight container shortage, shipping companies are extending their leases instead of returning them to the owner. So, manufacturers are only getting one container back for every three they send out, leading to fewer shipping containers for sale at ports than normal.
All of these issues stemming from the shortage affect your ability to buy and rent commercial shipping containers.
Why You Should Rent Commercial Shipping Containers
As the shortage worsens by the day, you may run into issues finding the size or type of shipping containers you need at a price you can afford. You may even have to wait weeks or even months to get one.
It’s even harder to find affordable ISO containers in stock for sale than it is for rent due to limited inventory and inflated pricing. So, you’ll have to wait awhile to get your container and see a return on your investment.
Southwest Mobile Storage has been able to keep our inventory stocked better than most, but it gets harder to maintain the longer the shortage goes on. Experts predict the price of storage containers will keep rising into 2022, which will make it more costly and challenging for you long-term.
Even though ISO containers are at record-level prices, you won’t necessarily have to pay more to rent a storage container. Plus, you may be able to find what you need despite the shortage causing limited inventories.
It all depends on where you are and who you go to.
For example, rental prices at some locations have not increased as much as sale prices, and others are converting shipping containers from the sales inventory to use for renting instead, ensuring availability for rental customers. So, you can still solve your steel container needs quickly and affordably by renting commercial shipping containers instead of buying.
Renting is less expensive because your business only pays a small monthly fee that can be built into your budget instead of a lump sum. Plus, you are more likely to get what you need quickly because companies usually prioritize stocking up their rental inventory over their sales one.
That’s why you should rent instead of buying shipping containers. Not only will you pay less, but you can also end your lease whenever you want. That way, you save money and get what you need as soon as possible.
Still, you should rent your commercial shipping containers and mobile offices for longer than you think you’ll need them. You never know when your business will need them again or how much it’ll cost you later on, especially since price and availability gets worse as the shortage continues.
Luckily, you still can find fair pricing, wide selections and fast delivery, depending on where you look. For example, Southwest Mobile Storage bought shipping containers in bulk before the shortage took off, so we’ve been able to keep rates comparatively low, inventory stocked and turnaround time fast. While other companies have been struggling since last year, we’re still going strong.
Regardless, you should rent your commercial shipping containers sooner rather than later as the shortage may only get worse as the year goes on.