Second Quarter 2020 Trade Figures Lift Veil On Rough Months For UK Freight Industry, But No Crystal Ball To Determine Future Outlook
The UK’s Q2 port freight statistics from the Department for Transport released today have shone a light on the impact on trade at the height of the pandemic.
When comparing April to June 2020 with April to June 2019 through the UK’s major ports:
- the total volume of freight tonnage decreased by 18% to 96.1 million tonnes
- the total volume of unitised traffic, goods transported by containers, trucks and trailers, decreased by 44% to 3.2 million units
Today’s figures fill a gap in data on the trade impact brought by the pandemic – previous DfT figures only told the story up to March – capturing the initial drop in tonnages and units handled by UK ports, where we saw a fall in volume of 6% compared to Q1 2019. Ports and shipping facilitates 95% of the UK’s physical trade so these provisional figures are a good indicator of economic performance.
News that the volume of freight tonnage decreased by 18% and unitised traffic dropped by 44% in Q2 confirms what the industry already knew; that the pandemic brought severe disruption to trade flows and demand in the economy.
Commenting, Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy and Economic Analyst, at the British Ports Association said:
“The dramatic fall in unitised traffic during this period is not surprising, as containers and freight carried by trucks are a good barometer of the performance of the overall economy. This fall represents a decline in finished goods bound for the high street as well as raw materials for manufacturing sites; both of which largely suspended operations during the lockdown . . . .
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