Freight traffic by road is suffering the ravages of the coronavirus despite being an essential service. The slump in demand for almost any product other than food or hygiene has led large trucking fleets to see declines in activity of up to 60% in the toughest weeks of confinement, resulting in an increase of empty trips, layoffs and Ertes for productive reasons (the sector cannot accept force majeure despite the fact that its clients do not operate).
“The companies in the sector are registering losses of between 25% and 50% of the trips, in addition to an increase of 30% in average kilometers in empty, which implies a sharp rise in inefficiency,” explains the employers’ association of the international transport of goods, ASTIC.
“Companies are registering losses of between 25% and 50% of trips, in addition to an increase of 30% of empty kilometers”
And it is that, the companies are having real problems to get the loaded trucks on the return trip, which supposes a decrease in the turnover of between 50 and 25% while the expenses (toll, fuel, wages) Maintain or even go up for safety measures for workers. Before the coronavirus crisis, vacuum returns barely accounted for 7%.
Thus, half of the companies with the largest truck fleets in Spain admit having made labor adjustments since the state of alarm was declared. 40% of the companies surveyed by ASTIC assure that they have opted for the Ertes while 8% talk about layoffs.
Although the transport of goods by road is still stopped, the truth is that since last week there has been a slowdown in the drop in activity compared to the same week in 2019. For example, ASTIC is already talking about a reduction in the activity of 40% while the data collected by Aeutransmer, the loaders ’employers’ association, shows a small reactivation in large non-food distribution and in the demand for goods linked to the steel industry.
Thus, the large non-food distribution fell on Monday May 4 66%, the iron and steel 43%, the chemical 34%, the skin and wood 43.5%, while food and hygiene rose 12%. The total reflects a decrease of 28.3% of the merchandise loaded on the first day of de-escalation, which implies an improvement compared to Monday, April 27, when the fall was 44.3% due to the 75% drop in distribution. non-food and 80% iron and steel. At this point, it must be remembered that during the first six weeks of confinement, the load of goods linked to non-food large distribution fell more than 90% every day.
Circulations to Europe have fallen 55% compared to last week’s 73% decrease As soon as to border truck traffic, the figures of reduction in its circulation to Europe are 55% for heavy vehicles, which is an improvement compared to previous weeks, where economic activity was limited to essential ones and in which transit to France or Portugal was reduced between 73% and 41%.
Last mile, bitter success As medium and long-distance freight transport falls, the last mile experiences a new Black Friday. But, yes, only in home deliveries linked to electronic commerce, which has triggered its growth during the state of alarm, and not in all sectors. “There are sectors such as textiles, construction and publishing, which have seen their sales through the Internet dramatically reduced, but others such as sports equipment have quadrupled them,” explains the UNO Logistics management.
“There are sectors such as textiles, construction and publishing, which have seen their sales through the Internet dramatically reduced”
Home deliveries have grown on average by 50% but fail to offset the decline in distributions between companies, which is the main business of logistics companies, so many of them have also had to approve temporary employment adjustments.
“The increase in activity in the area of the last mile does not compensate for the drop of 50% in the activity of logistics operators due to the paralysis of business activity,” recalls the UNO logistics management, which in its day requested to be able to host Ertes due to force majeure since bars and shops are closed.
Survive the crisis
In order to survive the coronavirus crisis, freight transport has requested a specific financing line proportional to the size of the companies, which represents, at least, 15% of the total annual turnover, as well as a significant reduction in prices social, since it would suppose an immediate injection of liquidity. They also call for the government to advance refunds for professional diesel and to eliminate tolls while the state of alarm lasts.