Post-holiday road transport prices drop, following four-year trend

Latest data on road freight reports a significant drop in haulage and courier prices, and look to drop further in February.
black and white photograph of a delivery driver loading boxes in the back of a large van

January’s TEG Road Transport Price Index data has revealed a substantial decrease in overall haulage and courier prices over the past month, extending a four-year trend of declining prices following the Christmas peak season.

A table of courier price data

The average price-per-mile for both haulage and courier vehicles dropped from 127 to 116.2, a decrease of almost 9%. The drop in prices was similar across haulage and courier prices, decreasing 8.7% and 7.8% respectively month-on-month. At the end of January, the price-per-mile of hauliers reached 109.7 and the price-per-mile of couriers reached 122.5 points – both marking the lowest prices since March 2023.

In comparison to January 2023, road freight prices also remain lower. Courier prices have seen the most significant difference, down 2.9% year-on-year. Haulage prices are also below January 2023 levels, though only by 0.6%.

Fuel price savings continue

The lower road freight prices are in part due to the lower fuel prices seen in 2023 compared to the previous year. Petrol is around 10p cheaper per litre than in January 2023, and diesel is around 24p cheaper – a major difference for those owning and operating large vehicles.

Fuel prices continue their downward trend for the third consecutive month, providing relief for businesses, fleet owners and drivers facing significant expenditures in 2024. Petrol and diesel prices are now at their lowest since October 2021 and July 2023, respectively, contributing to improved profit margins.

Recruitment initiatives on the up

Efforts to address the shortage of lorry drivers continue, including an extension of government-run HGV bootcamps to February 2026. The Skills Bootcamp in HGV Driving was launched in December 2021, providing free training courses and tests for those looking to gain or upgrade their HGV driving qualifications. Based on its successful contribution to reducing the driver shortage, the scheme has been given the maximum possible allocation of £10m to train a further 1,828 candidates.

Some companies, Aldi among them, are pursuing their own recruitment initiatives, offering incentives to boost driver numbers and diversity. Over 500 applications in the UK are now open for the supermarket’s apprenticeship scheme, offering logistics and HGV driver roles, among others.

Road surfacing scheme stalls

Questions have arisen around the progress of the government’s road resurfacing program, after the RAC’s 2023 pothole index indicated a lack of improvement in the situation. The number of potholes in Britain was up 33% in 2023 compared to 2022. Road freight operators remain vulnerable to substantial repair costs as progress in the £8.3 billion road improvement initiative is yet to occur. The funding, redirected from the HS2 project, should be enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of roads across England. This will be a welcome improvement to all drivers, hauliers and couriers among them.

Lyall Cresswell, CEO of Transport Exchange Group, says:
“The industry is navigating a familiar post-Christmas downturn, which we’ve come to expect, so it’s no surprise January’s data is showing the lowest road freight prices in 10 months. The continuous drop in prices provides a temporary advantage for operators to attract business in quieter months.

“However, challenges still persist, especially for smaller hauliers grappling with the transition to zero emissions. But despite the push for green energy, as an industry we’re still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, so we can’t get too complacent with lower fuel prices. Businesses should stay agile as there is still ambiguity surrounding predictions for 2024.

“Going forward this year, the industry will need to be strategic with their planning to remain resilient amid potential fluctuations. This way, businesses will be able to reap the benefits of the improving driver shortage and road quality the government is promising.”

Kirsten Tisdale, Director of Logistics Consultants Aricia Limited and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, says:
“The TEG indices for both haulage and courier are down on the month, but they are just showing their usual January blues, and they do both continue to show annual deflation. There’s lots of good news for individuals this month, with consumer confidence increasing in January, accompanied by the feelgood factor of pay increases continuing above the current rate of inflation. From an industry perspective, the good news is that HGV bootcamps are being extended to 2026.”

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