Resilience and growth amid economic pressures, finds this year’s Industry Monitor report

We are very happy to share with you our fifth state of the sector report – the Industry Monitor 2023 – produced in association with Motor Transport and Commercial Motor, which was officially launched at this year’s Road Transport Expo, held at NAEC Stoneleigh.

The report includes the results of a major survey carried out with 419 key decision-makers from haulage and logistics firms, operators, public sector and municipal waste organisations, who answered a series of questions about the challenges and opportunities facing the road transport sector as well as their own business plans.

With 58% of respondents at board-level or business owners, and 42% senior management, the annual survey was completed by more senior executives and industry leaders than ever before.

The report also includes personal insights from some senior industry figures representing well-known companies including Gregory Distribution, Veolia UK & Ireland, Pallet-Track, Freightlink Europe, The Green Group, GXO, XPO Logistics and UPS, together with views from Logistics UK, the Road Haulage Association, the SMMT and Zemo Partnership.

The results

The research shows that operators are suffering from the effects of inflation and labour shortages. The biggest concerns for respondents is the challenging economic outlook for the next 12 months and the increasing costs of fuel and energy.

Rising operational costs and the shortage of skilled labour – heavy goods vehicle drivers and technicians – are also worries, with city initiatives and regulations such as clean air zones and the Direct Vision Standard cited as other concerns.

With decarbonisation the biggest challenge facing the transport and logistics industry for decades, the survey of operators’ plans to transition from diesel to cleaner fuels throws up some surprising results – little progress is predicted over the next three years.

But overall, the resilience of the industry shines through. Despite the pressures, it is heartening to hear that more than 50% of operators predict their business will perform the same or better in 2023 than 2022.

Our CEO Willie Paterson shares this optimism. He says: “In the wake of the pandemic, our sector has come back strongly but is now facing other economic issues. High fuel and energy costs and ongoing supply issues mean we must all think carefully about efficiency and cost control, while keeping one eye on what lies ahead.

“But this is no time for doom and gloom. The road transport sector remains resilient and in good health. And in the viewpoints expressed by several senior industry leaders included here, there is plenty of optimism about business growth and the opportunities ahead.

“I’m also encouraged to learn about the upturn in new truck registrations, with high fleet renewal in the second half of 2022 driving registrations above pre-pandemic levels and further growth continuing this year.”

Paterson adds: “I sincerely hope the fascinating insights in this Industry Monitor prove useful to your business in 2023 and beyond.”