HGV driver shortage: What eCommerce players should know

If you don’t already know, HGV stands for heavy goods vehicle. Why do we have an HGV driver shortage in the UK? What can be done about it and how is it effecting the everyday consumer? This is what is being discussed today and what eCommerce players should know about.


Table of contents

1) Status of the HGV driver shortage

2) How worried should eCommerce sellers be about the truck driver shortage?

3) What steps should UK sellers take to help safeguard against future disruption?

4) What type of impact will we see during peak?

5) How much does the lorry driver shortage impact the everyday person?

6) Thoughts on the driver testing changes


Status of the HGV driver shortage

The driver shortage 2021 issue is a long-standing problem that has been exacerbated by a number of things; the pandemic, Brexit, IR35 changes and the cost of training and approach to acquiring an LGV1 licence. It is not a straightforward issue, as we have been around 60k drivers short in the UK for several years, and with the other factors in the mix, this means that we are now 90k+ short.

With the HGV sector facing several different issues simultaneously, how can eCommerce players continue ‘business as usual’ and avoid disruption to the consumer as much as possible?

We’re answering some of the most common questions here:

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How worried should eCommerce sellers be about the truck driver shortage?

They should be concerned, but not worried as all the major carriers are working hard to ensure that they have adequate capacity for peak. However, they can help themselves by helping the carriers, as outlined below.


What steps should UK sellers take to help safeguard against future disruption? 

Firstly, they should work hard to ensure that their seasonal forecasting is as accurate and as advanced as possible. We can be confident that the carriers will not accept late hikes in volume, and therefore booking capacity as early as possible is essential.

Similarly, if booked capacity is not going to be needed, this should be released as early as possible. The mantra here should be ‘communicate, communicate, communicate’ with your carriers and fulfilment partners to ensure that you do not disappoint your customers and impact your key seasonal opportunity.


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Carriers will be planning hard and putting contingencies in place. However, they need insights from every shipper and the more accurate that these are, the better the plans and, ultimately, the execution will be.


How much does the lorry driver shortage impact the everyday person?

At the moment, we are seeing impacts most noticeably on supermarket shelves, but the impacts are across all sectors. Construction, automotive, technology sectors in particular, are reporting considerable disruption. The key impact, other than periodic shortages, is going to be in pricing. As drivers become more expensive coupled with the high costs of international freight, will cause rises in retail pricing. This is starting to flow through into the retail price indexes, but it will become more pronounced in the coming months. The ultimate impact potentially will be seen in an inflationary market – ultimately impacting things like mortgage payments. It is, therefore, in all of our interests to help the road freight sector as much as we can.


What are your thoughts on the new driver testing changes? 

The impetus must be on changing the dynamic of the HGV shortage, so any adjustment that increases the driver population without compromising safety of all road users should be welcomed. However, there is a need to consider the maintenance of standards and quality of drivers. Our logistics industry is often seen as the best in the world, though we undervalue the role of the driver in the UK. We need to recognise that almost everything that we buy on a day-to-day basis, travels at some point in its supply journey by road vehicle – there are professional drivers, and we need to recognise them as such (and reward them accordingly).


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