US Retailers Adapt to Soaring Freight Rates

US Retailers Adapt to Soaring Freight Rates

Luisa Garcia
2 min read

US Retailers Adapt to Rising Freight Rates Amid Supply Chain Challenges

US retailers are grappling with a formidable obstacle as freight rates have tripled since November 2023, driven by supply chain disruptions and the Red Sea crisis. In response, retailers are adjusting their shipping schedules, with the peak shipping season starting as early as April and May to ensure timely arrival of holiday goods and mitigate cost escalations.

Key Takeaways

  • US retailers are experiencing a threefold increase in freight rates due to supply chain disruptions.
  • Major importers like Walmart and Target have secured lower rates through multiyear contracts, leaving smaller shippers facing up to 100% rate hikes.
  • The National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates a 2.5-3.5% growth in US imports and retail sales this year, indicating robust consumer demand.
  • Retailers are adjusting their peak shipping seasons to earlier months to circumvent delays and higher costs.
  • Consumer goods companies are ramping up discounts and promotions to sustain sales growth amidst pricing pressures.


Supply chain disruptions and the Red Sea crisis have driven a surge in freight rates, impacting US retailers. While major importers have been shielded by multiyear contracts, smaller shippers are grappling with substantial rate increases. The NRF's forecast underscores the strength of consumer demand, necessitating strategic adaptations such as early shipping and enhanced promotions to manage costs and sustain sales growth. This proactive shift aims to uphold consumer engagement and market stability in response to current market volatility.

Did You Know?

  • Red Sea Crisis: The Red Sea Crisis refers to a series of events, likely geopolitical or environmental, that have disrupted maritime traffic and trade routes in the Red Sea region. The resulting impact on global supply chains, particularly for Asia-Europe transportation, has led to a surge in freight rates.
  • Multiyear Contracts in Shipping: Multiyear contracts in shipping involve agreements between retailers and shipping companies to secure freight rates over several years. These contracts provide assurance against market volatility and predictability in logistics costs, granting a competitive advantage to large retailers such as Walmart and Target.
  • Promotional Sales Increase: The significant rise in promotional sales, from 25.1% to 28.6% over the past three years, signals a strategic shift by consumer goods companies to aggressively use discounts and promotions in response to higher costs. This trend reflects intense market competition, with retailers leveraging price incentives to maintain market share and consumer engagement.

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