Wholesale & retail business mileage increase highlights start of COVID-19 recovery

Customer data analysis by Allstar Business Solutions has revealed the easing of lockdown has prompted the green shoots of recovery in business travel, with an estimated 54 million extra miles travelled by wholesale and retail companies in June compared to May - up almost half (46.0%) month-on-month.

Fuel use by the motor sales and repair industry bounced back more strongly than other forms of wholesale and retail businesses (up 92.7% in June), likely due to businesses maintaining in existing fleets rather than investing in new vehicles. In comparison wholesale trade increased by 39.1% and retail trade grew by 15.6%.

These findings come as Allstar launches its new Business Barometer which will be tracking business mileage as an economic indicator of sector recovery. As the UK’s largest fuel card provider, Allstar will monitor the extent to which more than 50,000 companies are getting back on the road and which sectors have changed their travel habits the most.

While the impact of COVID-19 has been felt across all sectors of the economy, wholesale and retail is currently showing signs of recovery at a faster rate than others – the sector’s fuel usage has increased more than twice as much as transportation and storage (22.1%) and four times as much as the agriculture sector (11.3%).

Paul Holland, MD of UK Fuel at FLEETCOR, Allstar’s parent company, said: “It comes as no surprise that a significant impact has been felt across the board but every litre of fuel used since lockdown tells its own story of a business adapting, and often diversifying, to meet changing needs. It’s promising to see further signs of recovery as vehicle fleets that were mothballed in full lockdown have begun to re-emerge, helped by fuel prices broadly remaining at a four-year low.

“Looking ahead, the pace at which businesses return to a more normalised performance and whether we see a change in patterns of business travel and an ongoing increase in home deliveries will be fascinating. The Allstar Business Barometer provides unique insight into the evolution of the post-COVID UK economy, which will help businesses benchmark their own recovery.”

Tracking the recovery from a baseline during ‘peak lockdown’ (April 6-13), the analysis reflects the easing of lockdown measures in mid-May, when the government launched its return to work ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidance, and 15 June, when non-essential retailers reopened. Across all sectors, fuel consumption has risen 109% between w/c 6 April and w/c 29 June, with arts, entertainment and leisure businesses reporting sharpest increase (275%), and agriculture, forestry and fishing remaining most steady (34% uplift).

Tracking the recovery month-on-month: June versus May 2020

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

101.6

Education

47.8

Wholesale and Retail

46.0

Hospitality and Catering

43.2

Manufacturing

40.5

Real Estate

37.8

Other

34.7

Construction

34.3

Financial Services

25.9

Transportation and Storage

22.1

Utilities

20.2

Health and Social Care

17.0

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

11.3

Weekly fuel consumption: peak lockdown (w/c April 6) versus w/c June 29

Sector

Fuel consumption (% increase)

Arts, entertainment and recreation

275%

Education

186%

Hospitality and catering

155%

Manufacturing

137%

Wholesale and retail

135%

Construction

127%

Other

107%

Real estate

91%

Financial services

90%

Health and social care

56%

Utilities

50%

Transportation and storage

50%

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

34%

 

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