Congestion is increasingly impacting on business profitability, in particular for fleets in the North West, new research suggests.
Analysis of 2,000 van owners and operators in the UK for the latest Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer has found that 31% of respondents believe congestion is now the second biggest ‘barrier to growth’. A total of 31% respondents said they believe this will be a barrier to growth in the coming year, rising to 38% amongst fleet managers, and second only to rising fuel costs (57%). This rises to more than 40% (43%) of total respondents in the North West; the highest figure nationally.
However, when it comes to time spent in traffic, the highest figure was seen in Greater London, where respondents said 18% of their working day is lost to congestion. Across the UK, the average was 16% of the working day, which adds up to 37 working days a year lost due to congestion for the average delivery driver.
Growing numbers of vans on the roads are set to heighten this further. More than half (55%) of owners and operators said they plan on increasing the number of vans they own or operate within the next 12 months, due to growing customer bases (47%), continuing growth of online shopping (40%) and a shift away from heavy goods vehicles.
Latest DfT figures indicate that van traffic for the year end June 2018 was already up 3.7%. For the last five years, van traffic has been the fastest growing traffic type in percentage terms.
Steve Bridge, managing director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, said: “We know from our Business Barometer that a growing customer base ever more focused on online retail is a positive for the industry, but unless the issue of congestion is tackled, these businesses will suffer. Congestion causes delays that cost money as well as time and can damage the reputation of business that rely on their deliveries.
“This is a key issue for the van driving/owning community so we hope that the trade associations and Government organisations reading this will continue to take note of the opinion and sentiment of van owners and operators and listen to their concerns.”