Online shopping not fuelling increased traffic growth

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Less than one in twenty-five vans on UK roads are delivering packages to shoppers and businesses, according to research by the RAC Foundation. The report found that instead, online shopping has actually limited total traffic growth by keeping shoppers at home.

Online_Shopping_with_Touchscreen_UltrabookThe report finds that, based on the 2015 National Travel Survey, since 2002 the number of personal shopping trips made by car has dropped by 14 per cent. The distance travelled by car for personal shopping trips has reduced by 19 per cent.

According to the foundation, while only 4 per cent of vans will be involved in parcel delivery in the UK, they do “account for a disproportionately high number of miles travelled; some ten per cent of all van mileage.”

As well as this, the report shows that van mileage has grown 70 per cent in the past 20 years, which compares with car mileage growth of 12 per cent, and 5.5 per cent for lorries over the same period.

“Plenty of people suggest the surge in van traffic is down to our rapidly deepening love affair with online shopping,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation. “But this research suggests that sofa surfers might be helping to ease our traffic congestion woes. E-commerce is not the only, nor even the biggest, driver of the rise in vans.

“Overall, the implications for our roads could be positive, where several car shopping trips are replaced by one van delivering to multiple households, though there is an issue where personal goods are being delivered to city centre offices through already congested streets.

“Meantime, the question of why there are so many more vans is still a puzzle. Could it be the product of more small businesses and sole traders investing in vans and then using them both as a work tool and for family transport?”

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