Confidence in the UK logistics sector has fallen to its lowest ever level, according to the latest Barclays-BDO Logistics Confidence Index.
The survey, which began in 2012, was taken from more than 100 senior decision-makers, including CEOs, managing directors and CFOs, who provided their views and insights to the survey which was conducted during September and October 2020.
The survey revealed that the confidence index has reportedly fallen from 49.7 in 2019 to 47.1 this year, taking the score to its lowest level since 2012.
This fall in confidence is said to have come against a backdrop of “unprecedented domestic and global uncertainty” created by the pandemic, in addition to the ongoing concerns over the UK’s future relationship with the EU and the continued skills shortages.
The survey also revealed that a third of UK operators reported their current business conditions as either the same or more favourable than 12 months ago, despite the economic disruption.
Companies that focused on e-commerce and last-mile deliveries were found to have “fared relatively well”, while others operating in manufacturing sectors, such as automotive, aerospace, oil and gas saw “unprecedented levels” of disruption.
The vast majority of respondents who took the survey (94%) have stated that they have utilised the government’s Job Retention Scheme and staff furloughs to help them through the pandemic.
Ian Cranidge, head of transport and logistics at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “2020 has been an unprecedented year – never has the industry faced such a plethora of multifaceted challenges.
“However, longer term this is an extremely resilient sector which is ready to bounce back once the pandemic passes. Businesses are using this challenging period to build back better, by investing in technology and sustainability. The present is undoubtedly tough, but we can look to the future with optimism.”
In addition to the findings, more than two fifths (42%) of the surveyed operators stated they transitioned to more technological talent than human talent during Covid-19.
Meanwhile, many businesses will reportedly “continue to invest” in sustainability with more than 72% placing funds into green-related projects over the next 12 months.
The survey showed the logistics sector as continuous, strong, resilient and how it is still a “major contributor” to the UK economy. Barclays has claimed that total combined UK revenue for the companies surveyed amounted to £16.4bn with nearly half (49%) of them say they still expect to see a profit increase over the next 12 months.
Additionally, the number of companies expecting to make acquisitions is close to the “all-time high” of 2017, with 38.9% of respondents saying they are “likely” to make an acquisition within the next 12 months.