A look into the future for the UK Haulage Sector: examining the challenges and opportunities beyond 2021 in the post-COVID world

Driver Require has today released an entirely updated and consolidated report which investigates how the Lockdown has affected our industry; it is essentially a “Road Map”, to provide a clearer understanding of how COVID-19 has affected and will continue to affect the sector for many years to come. But it’s not just about COVID-19, it also examines all the other challenges we may face and the opportunities that await us in the coming decade. The report’s author, Driver Require‘s CEO Kieran Smith starts by looking at how the COVID-19 Lockdown has so far affected the UK Haulage Sector.

He states in the report that “the key findings are that the sector has been strongly polarised with grocery and supermarket suppliers being extremely busy while most of the rest of the market remained inactive. Now, as we are released from Lockdown, agility will be key as different sectors recover at different rates.” Smith goes on to examine how COVID-19 has affected the UK economy as a whole and summarises economic predictions for the rest of 2020.

The report determines that this is the worst economic crisis since World War II and that GDP is, on average, predicted to fall by -6.0% in 2020, but it could be a lot worse. Furthermore, Smith takes a macro-economic, regional and global perspective, concluding that there will inevitably be a recession and asserts that it will take the form of a quick decline, swiftly followed by a rapid partial recovery towards the end of 2020 and then a prolonged “U-Shaped” recession, in which GDP will take on average 3 years to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels and possibly as long as 5 years. Smith states in the report “We predict that it will take between 5 and 6 years for the Haulage Sector to return to pre-COVID-19 business levels and that we are likely to see a 10% drop in demand for LGV drivers through 2021, gradually improving over the following 3 years”.

He goes on to analyse the economic and employment aspects, and examines other factors and upcoming events that will have an impact on the UK Haulage Sector through to the end of 2021, specifically exploring the impact of Brexit, IR35 reform, VAT deferral, LGV MOT delays, temporary staffing and the importance of protecting cash flow in these turbulent times. The report also looks to the future, beyond 2021, examining the trends that will influence the UK Haulage Sector’s prospects in the long term, these being: the need for greater supply chain resilience; the increase in home working and e-commerce; digitisation, automation and robotics; greater government intervention; increased prominence of the Green Agenda; and last, but not least, an appreciation of Key Workers as “Strategic Assets”. Speaking on the future, Smith foresees “a turbulent decade with many challenges, however there will also be plenty of opportunities for the taking.

We expect there to be a levelling of the playing field over the next couple of years, which will provide the survivors, i.e. those with more robust, value-adding business models with greater agility and better cash management, with exciting openings for growth and profit generation.”

Read the full report