2020 has been a challenging year for people across the globe and the freight industry is no exception. Increased online shopping, safety protocols and breaks in the supply chain have created challenges for all involved in the shipping industry and delivery of freight by road, air or sea.

Lockdowns and the closure of retail led to an increase in online shopping across all sectors. The supermarkets saw demand for online delivery double causing delivery slot shortages across the UK. Supermarket’s had to prioritise their customer base and allocate slots to those shielding or in high-risk groups before the rest of their customers. The increased demand resulted in several supermarket chains hiring hundreds more delivery drivers to meet customer demand. 

The pandemic also caused several shortages of essential items. For example, the UK saw a shortage of hand sanitiser and PPE due to delayed international deliveries. The shortages meant many businesses with the facilities to manufacture hand sanitiser stepped in to help, BrewDog and INEOS are just two examples. The increased demand for these products resulted in pressure on freight services to deliver the essential items to those who needed them most, primarily the NHS and social care services. 

As with all industries the freight industry has seen an increase in safety protocols. Reduced staff numbers, social distancing and limiting the sharing vehicles have all provided challenges for the industry. Although necessary to protect staff, the additional measures have often resulted in reduced efficiency and delays for the consumer. In a bid to keep supply chains moving, deliver essential medical supplies and alleviate some of the pressure on road freight, air freight companies have been utilising the cargo capacity in passenger aircraft. 

COVID-19 has also caused problems for global supply chains, in particular those who rely heavily on China for supplies and parts. Many businesses have had to re-evaluate their supply chains to ensure they can deliver their products to customers and try to avoid product shortages. COVID-19 is something no business was prepared for and has led many to undertake in-depth risk assessment and consider redesigning their supply chains.

The pandemic has led to a high level of pressure on the freight industry to deliver and thanks to the industry’s determination, we have managed to keep the world’s goods moving.