Online shopping revolution influencing used van sales

Vans are becoming the most common tool for delivery in the ‘final mile’ thanks to the surge in online buying.

Traditionally, more than 90% of home deliveries were made by the Royal Mail and its army of flatfoots. For 350 years it enjoyed a monopoly on delivery of letters before partial competition was introduced in 2003, although Royal Mail was still obliged to deliver to every address in the country. The monopoly was completed removed in 2006. 

According to IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) consumers spent an estimated £78bn at online retail stores in 2012. That is expected to rise to £87bn this year.

The decision to lift the monopoly coincided with an exponential rise in online retail. Had government delayed the axe, online shopping could have reinvented the beleaguered Royal Mail.

Alas, it was not to be, instead it created the cut-throat home delivery sector. Every day a bevy of vans, in all shapes, sizes and colours, descend on the suburbs with handheld devices. “Sign here please…”

Shoreham Vehicle Auction’s MD Alex Wright, says the festive trend, starting in November, saw a drop of 157% of vans less than two years old selling at auction. His view is backed up by figures released by the National Association of Motor Auctions (NAMA). Of the 4,082 LCVs sold in November, itself a drop of 43% compared to October 2012, just 129 were less than two years old. In December, 154 vans aged less than 24-months were sold at auction from a total of 3,551 LCV vehicles available, the lowest number of sales recorded in any month in 2012.

Wright says that fleets, in particular daily rental companies, are not defleeting as home delivery companies looked for extra delivery capacity in the run-up to Christmas. “Home delivery fleets top up their capacity with short term daily rental vehicles during late November and December and so there are very few sub 12-18 month old vehicles coming into the used market.

“This artificially increases prices of this stock for a couple of months, but reinforces the power that online shopping is having on the remarketing industry.”

With more people shopping online, Wright believes that the type of van daily rental fleets run will change to cater for this growing consumer trend. “The 3.5 tonne long wheelbase mid to high roof van, which makes a good home parcel delivery van, will start to grow in popularity again after a few years of operators downsizing to smaller vans.

“This will bring about a greater mix of vehicles coming into the used market which has to be good news for those small businesses that purchase ex fleet vans to run their own businesses,” he concludes.

Out now! Commercial Motor 31 January issue

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This week’s issue includes:

  • What does the future hold for 7.5-tonners?
  • BJ&C Carberry: The Suffolk haulier hopes its new 80-tonne Scania will help bring in new business.
  • Transport manager questionnaire: Hauliers and transport lawyers tell CM why it was important to return the Department for Transport questionnaire.
  • The latest legal cases: Aberdeen-based MSA Logistics director and transport lawyer Michael Sandison Allan is disqualified for acting as a “puppet” for a revoked haulier, an O-licence application for UK Home Delivery has been refused over fears of fronting and Ashcroft Plant (Cumbria) is given a formal warning for maintenance issues.
  • Illicit fuel: CM investigates the use of illicit fuel and how the authorities are dealing with it.
  • The latest news: Hauliers’ cash flow hit by soaring costs and rates crunch, the Driving Standards Agency backs down over Driver CPC changes, vehicle manufacturers call for tightening of diesel fuel specification and B2B Logistics set to appoint a liquidator after a failed pre-pack deal.

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