The retail industry and representatives from the supply chain sector have this week welcomed news from Chancellor George Osborne that the government is set to review current legislation on night-time deliveries.
On Wednesday, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it is looking forward to helping establish new guidelines for this vital part of the industry, and others operating in the retail sector have added their voice to the debate in subsequent days.
Deliveries made at night-time are currently heavily restricted due to environmental and noise pollution red tape, and the general consensus is that the rules are holding back retailers and suppliers.
Commercial Director for the Transport Services division of supply chain solutions business Norbert Dentressangle, Duncan Eyre, told Retail Gazette it is vital that old-fashioned legislation relating to these matters is challenged and reviewed.
He argued that existing directives do not take into account the eco-friendly changes introduced to the transport industry in recent years, such as the advent of electric vehicles, saying: “From a logistics point of view, this is something that holds us back most.
“It’s time for the legislation to change – rules were made years ago when things were different.”
Norbert provides a night-trunking operation to fashion retail group Inditex, owner of Zara and Massimo Dutti, and Eyre believes that delivering at off-peak times is beneficial in terms of avoiding congestion on the roads and giving retailers more time to sell products.
“When we deliver goods overnight for our automotive clients, sales on certain products can increase by ten to 15 per cent,” he said.
“It’s simple - if the stock isn’t there, it can’t be sold!”
Calls for amendments to night-time delivery regulation have notched up a gear following Osborne’s Autumn Statement on Tuesday, which was accompanied by a lengthy document containing a commitment to addressing the issue.
The statement read: “The government will consider the need for further guidance on quiet night-time deliveries as part of a forthcoming wider review.
“The government will ask the Noise Abatement Society and the Freight Transport Association to: build on the Quiet Deliveries Demonstration Scheme by further developing the existing scheme’s best practice guidance into a toolkit that includes standards for quiet night time deliveries; and identify whether further government guidance is needed to promote uptake.”
It is clear that any changes to current rules are only at the proposal stage, but retailers are seemingly encouraged by what they have heard this week.
BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said that the organisation has called for “greater flexibility” regarding deliveries for some time.
“Retailers literally drive for efficiency but too often outdated bans stop them delivering at night - that adds to costs and actually forces them to add to the congestion they want to avoid,” he explained.
“Many of these restrictions have been in place for years and fail to take account of advances in technology that make vehicles and the unloading process much quieter.
“We look forward to working with the government, Freight Transport Association and others to establish new guidelines that contribute to improving the viability of retail locations, at a time of really tough trading conditions, while also working for local residents.”