During the COVID-19 pandemic, the haulage industry was a major player in continuing to ensure the demand for supplies from the public – which was particularly increased as people began spending much more time at home: around 77% of consumers who took part in a public survey said they were online shopping more than usual during lockdown.
Due to the circumstances, while a few lorry drivers had to temporarily close, this only made demand higher than ever for those who were required to take part in essential work. Through the entire lockdown, there was continued praise for hauliers – from the Prime Minister as well as members of the public. Across motorways, “thank you” banners have been up for months – to show the respect many have for the hauliers who dedicated so much of their efforts to ensuring supply-and-demand continued to be met.
However, now more than ever – lorry drivers need continued support. Specifically, within the industry itself to ensure that they are facilitated to financially. While they continued to meet demands without fail – many sacrifices were made from a financial standpoint. This was of major consequence to many of the drivers – some of whom faced closure.
In the US, the unemployment rate is now at 14.7% and in April, 88,300 truck drivers lost their jobs. That was a heavy blow for the economy, the heaviest since the Great Depression of the 1920s. As was the case then, that impact will also be felt here for hauliers. 90 years ago, businesses faced one of the most difficult periods in history to stay open and return a profit - in the 2020s, haulage businesses will face a similar challenge in light of the pandemic and the way it impacted the worldwide economy.
International hauliers will face an even more significant challenge, once Brexit takes place – as there will need to be more time taken going through borders. With around triple the time spent waiting to move on through customs and operate at an international scale. With more time spent waiting, international hauliers should anticipate less productive hours while out on the road.
Meanwhile, the rest of Europe has been on the path to recovery while on the road. UK transport activity has returned to an 84% of the pre-covid statistic. Meanwhile, France stands at 97%, Germany at 99% and Italy at 98%. This could be due to the significant peak the UK saw after a delayed lockdown - whatever the case, this could mean further consequences for hauliers in the long-term.
While there are many challenges ahead for the average haulier – there are those already demanding they are appropriately supported for all their efforts this year. Those such as the RHA and FTA, who speak on behalf of members of the industry.
Returnloads, the online Freight Exchange, has continued to provide an essential service throughout the pandemic, providing the opportunity for drivers to find more work at a time where work has become more and more difficult to come by. For international hauliers, a consideration can be made as to whether they would take the opportunity of forming new business partners through a haulage exchange such as Returnloads.net.