The unrelenting rise of e-commerce will create an additional 38,885 extra HGV round trips per day by 2025 – and boost the number of lorry driver jobs, research has revealed.
The findings come from real estate firm Colliers, who say that the extra vehicles could take up one lane of the motorway from London all the way to Aberdeen bringing the UK’s road network to a halt by the end of this decade.
They add that ‘drastic action’ is now needed.
In a report, Colliers says that at least an additional 54.5 million square feet of industrial logistics space, including warehouses – equal to more than 710 Wembley-sized football pitches – will also be needed by 2025 to satisfy the existing shortfall and meet anticipated growth.
‘This needs to be a focus area’
Dr Walter Boettcher, the firm’s head of research and economics in the UK, said: “With transport accounting for approximately 30% of all territorial carbon dioxide emissions in the UK in 2020, it is clear this needs to be a focus area if the UK is to meet its net zero target.
“The distribution model in place for the growing volume of e-commerce is not without its problems. One being that it has a substantial environmental footprint that may equal, if not exceed, that of traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing.”
He added: “From a commercial property perspective, there are questions about whether and how future growth in consumer spending in general can be adequately accommodated, let alone the inexorable rise of e-commerce.
“Much attention is focused on ‘last mile delivery’ solutions, but the real existential questions have more to do with the sustainability of bulk transport from port quays to inland warehouses and on to urban agglomeration hubs.”
Generate the extra HGV roads trips
It is this demand to carry goods from ports that will generate the extra HGV road trips – and increasing the demand for lorry driver jobs with it.
The report also points out that in 2010, UK retail sales amounted to £325 billion, rising to £438bn in 2020 and are expected to reach £651bn by 2030, according to Oxford Economics forecasts.
The e-commerce share of total retail sales has risen from 7.3% in 2010 to 19.2% in 2019 before reaching an annual pandemic-fuelled peak of 27.9% in 2020.
This share is expected to fall back to 25% in 2021 but will resume its long-term climb to 27% by 2025 and finding greater stability at around 35% by 2030 according to Colliers’ forecasts.
‘Accommodating the rise of e-commerce’
The report, ‘Clicks & Consequences – accommodating the rise of e-commerce’, makes these recommendations:
- Investment in ports and efficient multi-mode conveyancing systems including a shift of emphasis from road to rail for shipments between ports and inland warehousing, especially for north-south trunking, but also for downstream supply to large conurbations
- Review of road taxation to distribute transport infrastructure maintenance and development costs more evenly in supply chains whose business models all rely on this infrastructure that is still generally understood as a ‘public amenity
- Integrating supply chain infrastructure investment into government regional development planning, especially the ‘levelling up’ agenda, but also advancing reforms that will unblock investment by pension funds into long term strategic assets vital for UK economic development generally.