As haulage demand surges by up to 120% in 2021 and hauliers are pushed to breaking point, a perfect storm of red tape, driver shortages and other Brexit issues threaten retail, food, farming and gardening industries. According to a new study of haulage industry leaders, haulage companies are facing problems when working with a range of sectors post-Brexit, raising concerns that consumers will feel the cost of ongoing supply chain issues. In light of challenges, over half of UK hauliers (56%) are considering moving operations to the EU.
Almost a third (31%) say they are having to avoid working with the food & drinks industry, due to increased checks and admin on certain products. Other sectors impacted include livestock farming (25%), agricultural farming (25%), gardening supplies (19%) and retail (13%).
The situation is being exacerbated by huge spikes in UK demand for haulage, at a time when there’s a skilled driver deficit of up to 100,000 drivers due to Brexit, Covid-19 and other factors. In the three months from March to May 2021, the uplift in demand for haulage was more than twice what it was for the same period in 2019. In April 2021 alone, demand was 120% stronger than in April 2019.
The 2021 Post-Brexit Hauliers Survey – conducted by specialist return loads platform Haulage Exchange – received feedback from business leaders at 16 of the UK’s top haulage companies operating in the UK and Europe. They provide insight on how Brexit has affected their business, the wider impacts on employees and business plans, and what the future holds for the industry.
The study reveals the increased challenges for haulage companies in the UK. Six months on from the Brexit transition, 94% of UK haulage companies state they have been negatively impacted, and are seeing greater Brexit aftershocks than they anticipated.
The number of UK haulage companies that have lost business because of Brexit regulation changes has risen to 69%. In December 2020, prior to the Brexit deadline, this stood at 21%.
“We know more changes are coming, but this is an industry used to adapting and it has proved extraordinarily successful in dealing with the unexpected. It’s encouraging that demand for haulage is stronger than ever, and how well companies have adapted to big changes shows the resilience of our industry,” said Lyall Cresswell, Founder and CEO at Haulage Exchange.
“Companies can use that demand to overcome the challenges ahead and I’m positive about the future of the industry. The issues identified in our survey need to be addressed quickly and decisively. If that happens, I’m confident that the industry will continue to thrive.
“It’s clear that haulage companies will have to continue to be flexible, especially with further Brexit changes around the corner, but this is where platforms like ours can help. Our network helps companies to avoid dead mileage or fleets sitting idle. Instead, they can take advantage of the surging demand.”