Lockdown has had an impact on every industry, but the shipping industry, in particular, has seen ongoing and prolonged pressure like never before. With increased demand but limited capacity, couriers and shipping companies have been under increasing pressure to keep on top of demand while still keeping their employees safe. Here, we’re digging a little deeper into how COVID-19 has affected couriers and the shipping industry, and how they can keep on top of staying safe in the coming months.
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Courier Industry
Whether you work with couriers or own your own courier business, or even if you’ve only ordered something over the past few months, chances are you’ve witnessed disruptions to the typical expected service. From longer shipping times and low or limited stock to contactless deliveries or increased shipping costs, companies have had to make changes to keep up with the pressure of the outbreak and lockdown.
Three of the main impacts that it has had include:
The Rise In Online Sales – The sheer volume of people ordering online over the past few months is higher than it has ever been, with May alone seeing a 32.7% increase YoY, which is the highest increase that the UK has seen since 2008. This is 13.8% higher than April too, showing that online sales certainly aren’t slowing down. What this has meant, however, is that couriers and delivery services have a higher number of parcels and packages to deliver and in some cases, limited resources and staff in which to do so. While 3 in 5 UK shoppers have favoured local shops, some of which operate their own delivery services, couriers have still taken the brunt of the lockdown rush.
Between February and March, when the lockdown was seen as both a potential and imminent issue, sales of hand sanitiser and soap, disinfectant, bottled water, tissues and, of course, toilet paper, all soared, with hand sanitiser seeing some of the biggest week-on-week increases of over 420%. Such a sudden demand even caused Amazon to limit its service to prioritise household and health-related products.
Reduced capacity – Despite this rise in sales, however, there was a considerable lack of capacity. With limits on travel, reduced staff due to vulnerability or sickness and even limits on the products they can get hold of, couriers have been under immense pressure. Even the likes of UPS, FedEx and DHL have reported route suspensions, as well as suspensions on signature-on-delivery services and next-day or express shipping.
Slow Mail – On a similar strain to reduced capacity, the country’s mail service has seen significant delays, particularly with international shipments and letters. While not every country announced significant disruptions, the U.S. Postal Service, China Post, Deutsche Post, Swiss Post and more all announced disruptions as a result.
How to Manage Safety After Lockdown
Lockdown has eased and more businesses have gone back to work. Now, with the shops in the UK open, couriers can expect to see an ease in demand. However, it’s not all over and managing safety in the coming months is vital to limiting the chances of a second wave. From ensuring that you have adequate business protection including insurance, to putting measures in place for couriers out on the road, there are a few things you should do:
Business Protection – Ensuring that your Employer’s Liability insurance is up to date and adequate is the first thing you should do as we head into the easing of lockdown. Your employers and your business need to be protected in the case of accidents of sickness as a result of business operations. In the same way, your customers do too and so it’s advised that you take out or renew your Public Liability insurance policy to ensure you are protected.
Keeping Safe On The Road – From limiting the number of couriers in any one vehicle to conducting regular reviews of how they are operating, will help you stay on top of ensuring employee and customer safety. Gloves and masks should be worn when delivering parcels for both safety, and peace of mind to the recipients. Within the vehicle itself, regular cleaning should take place and where possible, hand sanitiser should be available to be used between deliveries if hand washing isn’t possible.