In a sign that the supply chain crisis that's marred the latter half of the pandemic may finally be on the wane, freight rates have declined for the first time this year. You might take this as your cue to tamp down on prices, but that assessment may be premature.
Freight rates in the U.S., which had increased at least 28 percent year over year in 2022, declined by almost 2 percent in July, according to recent data compiled by Cass Information Systems, a St. Louis-based financial services company. That's good news for businesses, especially retailers, that have encountered price hikes this year, especially coming into peak season.
More availability on shipping vessels will help lower costs as supply starts to dissipate, Cass Freight report researcher and author Tim Denoyer told CNBC. "I think that's going to be a good thing from a cost perspective for those big retailers who have been struggling with a lot of cost inflation."
This doesn't mean, however, that supply chain issues are fixed. There are still delays and high rates due to port congestion, especially on the East Coast, notes Tiffanie Stanard, founder and CEO of Stimulus, a logistics software company.
She says adoption of technology that can provide port visibility, such as those that better track drop-offs and pick-ups, will help the issue, but supply chain difficulties will continue to effect businesses. That's why, she notes, small businesses may need to increase their product or shipping prices as back to school and the holiday season approaches.