Lockdowns caused a huge decline in retail sales, which quickly rebounded as countries reopened their markets. Hundreds of container ships are now awaiting entry to overloaded ports throughout the world, mainly in the United States and China. Furthermore, shortages of truck drivers in Europe and the United States make transporting containers to their final destinations when they arrive on land more challenging. Port closures induced by Covid-19 outbreaks have added to the travel congestion.

Containers that have been abandoned on quaysides for months have become the norm. Furthermore, container costs have risen dramatically. Sending a 40ft container from Asia to Europe costs $17,500 (£12,650), according to George Griffiths, editor of global container markets at S&P Global Platts, which is more than 10 times the cost a year ago. He goes on to claim that certain shipping companies are already charging premium pricing to guarantee delivery within a few weeks and that importers are bidding against one another to get containers ahead of their competitors.

Some huge firms have recently begun to acquire their containers and hire ships in response to shortages. Ikea has stated that to overcome an inventory problem, it has ordered additional containers and chartered ships.