Europe’s worsening debt crisis has been posited as the cause of the downturn, with the continent heading back into recession. According to the figures, volumes fell by 6.9% in May 2012 compared with the same month in 2011, which follows on the heels of a 3.2% fall in April 2012.
Shipping lines have struggled to impose rate increases in the face of falling volumes, which have been linked in part to a fall in consumer spending in the UK. The summer months are traditionally a peak season for the industry, but the lines have been forced in many cases to postpone peak season surcharges to July.
The lines are hoping to make up for an estimated $6bn loss in 2011, but industry commentators Drewry are warning that their fortunes could go either way in 2012, with a potential further loss up to $1.3bn across the industry as the worst case scenario.