Business Barometer

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Confidence takes a dip in van sector.

The confidence and optimism of Britain’s van drivers, owners and operators has taken a knock since the EU referendum and General Election, according to the new Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer.

The phased study – begun in April and featuring benchmarked quarterly data for the first time – shows a dip in both business confidence and career optimism levels since the June election.

An independent sample of 2,000 van drivers, owners, operators and fleet managers – from tradespeople and service engineers to delivery drivers and entrepreneurs – were asked about their business growth expectations, career goals, challenges and the barriers to growth that they face.

The overall outlook is by no means gloomy, however – 47% said they were looking to up-staff, more than half said they will be investing in more vans over the next year and 44% said their organisation will become more reliant on vans in the next 12 months as the trend towards online shopping, quicker delivery windows and a shift away from heavier goods vehicles continues.

Though the majority (87%) were confident their business would grow rather than shrink over the next year, the figure represents a three percentage point fall between April and August.  Confidence peaked among London’s van drivers, owners and operators – where 92% were forecasting growth – but this fell sharply across the UK to 82% in the East of England.

Congestion remains a key cause for concern – 30% of van drivers, owners and operators said it could prevent growth and delivery businesses said they were losing 15% of their working hours to gridlock.

“It is deeply concerning that business optimism has taken a dip, with congestion cited as a key barrier to growth,” Steve Bridge, the Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, said.  “Quite simply, it is unacceptable that businesses are losing six hours a week to gridlock.  Hard working van users should not have to worry about whether or not they can fulfil their business needs because of bottlenecks and traffic chaos.”