Weekly UK-EU freight volumes down 38%, truck data indicates

FILE PHOTO: Flags of the Union Jack and European Union are seen ahead of the meeting of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in Brussels, Belgium December 9, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Freight volumes moving between the United Kingdom and the European Union were down 38% in the third week of January compared with the same week a year ago, real-time truck movement data shows.

Stockpiling, problems adapting to the post-Brexit customs border and the COVID hit to the economy have all reduced the flow of goods moving between Britain and the EU although it is starting to stabilise.

The data comes from Sixfold and Transporeon, Europe’s largest supply chain & logistics technology platform that connects suppliers, retailers, shippers and more than 100,000 logistics service providers.

Prices for jobs to move goods, particularly on the key French-British crossing, remained above last year’s levels. Spot prices on the French to British route were up 51% compared with the third quarter of last year, chosen to reflect the most normal trade levels with regards to COVID-19 turbulence.

Freight forwarders, the companies that book truckers or other modes of transport to move goods on behalf of suppliers, also continued to reject jobs from companies they are contracted to serve, when it comes to moving goods to Britain.

Drivers now need additional paperwork due to the customs border plus a negative COVID test when leaving Britain, putting many drivers off.

“Transport demand is slowly recovering but still sluggish - our French British border crossing monitoring, based on real-time visibility data by Sixfold, indicates significant volume drop compared to the same weeks in January 2020,” said Stephan Sieber, CEO of Transporeon.

The Port of Dover, Britain’s main port for truck freight, has said it expected January trade to be slower following pre-Brexit stockpiling. It expects a return to normal seasonal average levels by the end of January or early February.

Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Paul Sandle and Andrew MacAskill