The UK’s transport infrastructure is putting retailers at risk, according to new research by leading business law firm DWF, which reveals that a third (31%) lost at least a tenth of their net profit due to inefficient transport in the last year.
In a survey of 180 ‘C-suite’ executives, over half (56%) of retail respondents said that this cost to business has increased from last year. And a quarter (25%) aren’t confident that the UK’s transport infrastructure will be improved in the next five years – even though two thirds (66%) predicted their business will become more reliant on the transport industry in that period.
“From staff running late due to cancelled trains to a freight not arriving on time, poor transport infrastructure has the capacity to cause problems right across the retail supply chain,” said Ed Meikle, head of retail group at DWF, commenting on the survey. ”The ability to move goods around the county – and in and out of it – is essential to keep shelves stocked and commerce flowing. But all too often, clogged up roads – particularly in the South East and around our ports – are bringing people to a standstill and holding business back.”
According to the survey, railway lines are the biggest cause for concern, with HS3 and Crossrail listed as the transport projects that retailers would most like the government to prioritise, by 69% and 44% respectively. Road improvements ranked third (42%), followed by HS2 phase one (33%) and the Trans-Pennine tunnel (33%).
Meikle continues: “Our survey shows that the infrastructure issues experienced every day are driving costs up and revenues down, and ultimately damaging business’ bottom lines – at a time when the retail sector is already struggling with tough economic conditions. The Government must take retailers’ concerns seriously and invest in the UK’s transport infrastructure to safeguard this valuable sector, and the jobs it provides.”
Retailers listed geopolitical uncertainty (64%), demand outstripping supply and improvements (53%), lack of international collaboration (50%), and regulatory change (44%) as the greatest barriers to improved transportation. Meanwhile, a staggering 89% expressed concern that Brexit will negatively affect the transport industry, and therefore their business – more so than any other sector.