Black Friday sales figures indicate future delivery problem

Young woman doing Xmas shopping onlineEarly analysis of Black Friday sales figures suggests that the online shopping revolution is picking up speed, a trend which could have significant consequences for delivery companies at Christmas time and into the future.

A new survey conducted by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG found that online sales of non-food items rocketed by 11.8% in November 2015, compared with the same period last year.

Overall, this meant that one in every five pounds spent in November was spent in an online transaction.

This is a huge increase for online sales, especially when you compare it to the lacklustre performance of ‘physical’ retailers in November.

Stores that have been open for longer than a year did 0.4% less trade this November compared to the same month in 2014.

The online shopping revolution and haulage companies

Online shopping is obviously nothing new, but if we take last month’s retail sales figures as a sign of things to come then the online shopping revolution could have significant consequences for the haulage industry.

More online orders means more individual packages travelling longer distances and ultimately, more drivers to transport them.

In an industry that is already blighted by a significant driver shortage problem this has the potential to be a serious problem.

Training new lorry drivers takes a long time and costs a lot of money. But with little to no help coming from the government, numerous industry bodies including the Road Haulage Association have warned that there could be disruption to Christmas orders.

If the online shopping revolution continues to gather pace then disrupted deliveries to stores and homes could become a sustained problem into the future.

Couriers and other delivery firms have already invested heavily in making sure they are ready for the Christmas rush.

One carrier Yodel got into trouble with customers last year after they received half a million more parcels than they predicted and failed to deliver all of them in a timely way.

This year, Yodel has spent £20m on a new website, new equipment and new vehicles.

They are also seeking to employ 7,000 new drivers for the season – 40 per cent more than last year.

It will be easier for these companies to employ drivers for smaller commercial vehicles and cars, but as they seek to increase the capacity for HGVs and other large vehicles they risk coming up against a brick wall, particularly if the work is only temporary.