Confidence and optimism among Britain’s van drivers, owners and operators are showing signs of waning following the EU referendum and General Election, according to the new Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer.
The study, featuring benchmarked quarterly data from an independent sample of 2,000 van drivers, owners, operators and fleet managers, showed that although the majority (87%) are confident their business will grow rather than shrink over the next year, the figure saw a three percentage fall between April and August, with both the General Election and Brexit negotiations casting uncertainty over the wider economy in between.
The highest level of confidence was seen in London, where 92% of van drivers and owners forecast growth, but that dropped to 82% in the East of England.
Overall 47% of companies felt that they would look to increase staffing levels with more than half reporting that they would invest in vans over the next 12 months.
And 44% of those asked thought that their business would become more reliant on vans over the coming year, as the trend towards online shopping, faster deliveries and a shift away from heavier goods vehicles continues.
One of the biggest concerns for van operators remains congestion, with 30% of drivers and owners reporting that gridlock on our roads could prevent growth. Delivery businesses claimed that congestion was costing up to 15% of their working hours.
“It is deeply concerning that business optimism has taken a dip, with congestion cited as a key barrier to growth,” said Steve Bridge, managing director at Mercedes-Benz Vans UK.