Night-time store deliveries were last permitted during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The idea was reawakened in March to help the fight against Covid-19. ParcelHero says this time night deliveries should be made permanent once the crisis is over, to slash urban congestion and pollution.
The severe restrictions previously in place on night-time deliveries to stores were relaxed on March 9, to enable shops to replenish shelves with groceries, hygiene products and other essentials. As supply chains unravelled, the Government also relaxed competition laws to allow supermarkets to share staff, stock and delivery vans in local areas, to help keep stores open and deliveries happening.
Now the UK courier services specialist ParcelHero says that, as Britain begins to look towards lifting lockdown, retailer collaboration and night-time deliveries must not be allowed to disappear overnight, as they did once before, following their successful introduction during the London Olympics in 2012.
ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jink, says: “As part of the emergency measures taken because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Government agreed with local authorities to extend the hours that deliveries can be made to supermarkets and other food retailers. The new measures meant food retailers were able to increase the frequency of deliveries to their stores and move stocks more quickly from warehouses across the country to restock shelves.
“As the UK begins to plan a path out of lockdown, we must not forget the vital lesson we learned during the 2012 Olympics once again. By swapping daytime store deliveries to the night-time, both congestion and pollution are dramatically reduced.
“When Transport for London’s (TfL) ‘Quiet Deliveries’ scheme was pioneered for the London Olympics the trial was highly successful, with virtually no complaints from residents about noise or inconvenience. Sadly, as soon as the Games ended, businesses reverted to their former practices and much of the advances made, in terms of both night restocking and retailer collaboration, were lost. This time, as lockdown lifts, we must not let that happen again.
“This year, just as in 2012, supermarkets and retailers have cooperated to keep stores in our cities and towns stocked during the coronavirus epidemic. This time, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also agreed not to take enforcement action if businesses cooperated with one another, as long as it was necessary to protect consumers. It’s vital this agreement continues. Collaborative night-time deliveries deliver numerous benefits, not only during this time of national crisis, but long after the current crisis has ended.
“ParcelHero’s research agrees with findings from the Freight Transport Association and the Government itself that evening deliveries result in:
- reduced round-trip journey times
- reduced vehicle turnaround times at stores
- reduced fuel consumption from less time spent idling in congestion
- improved shift productivity from drivers and vehicles
- increased product availability within store
- less conflict between deliveries and customers on the shop floor
“Of course, the problem with night-time deliveries is noise. The secret to the success of TfL’s 2012 Olympics’ ‘Quiet Deliveries’ scheme was reducing the volume of both vehicles and the actual physical delivery process. Noise is not just down to the racket of the vehicle itself. Obviously, electric and hydrogen-powered trucks are preferable to noisy diesel vehicles, but there are other significant ways to keep noise levels acceptable.
“Typically, Quiet Deliveries best practice measures include:
- Modern equipment such as quiet storage cages and racks
- Modifications to loading bays, such as quieter gates and doors
- Behaviour by staff to reduce noise, such as accurate handling of goods, hushed voices and limited use of horns
- Use of ‘hush hush’ reversing alarms that don’t bleep loudly, or sound like someone is strangling a crow.
“It’s ParcelHero’s belief that most people will agree to the permanent introduction of night-time Quiet Deliveries, once they realise how dramatically the potential risk of noise has been reduced in recent years, because of the significant advantages night manoeuvres bring in terms of reduced congestion and pollution. These are benefits that extend far beyond lockdown and must become one of the positive legacies of this crisis.”