RAC – online shopping reducing shopping miles

Contrary to urban myth, fewer than one in 25 vans on UK roads are delivering packages to shoppers according to new research published by the RAC Foundation. Instead the report found that online shopping has limited total traffic growth in the UK by keeping shoppers at home.

Based on the 2015 National Travel Survey, the report found that since 2002 the number of personal shopping trips made by car has actually dropped by 14%. The distance travelled by car for personal shopping trips has also decreased by 19%.

While only 4% of vans on the roads are involved in parcel delivery here, the RAC Foundation found that they do “account for a disproportionately high number of miles travelled; some ten per cent of all van mileage.”

In addition the RAC report showed that van mileage has increased by 70% in the last 20 years. This compares with care mileage growing by 12%, as well as lorriy mileage growing by 5.5% in the same time-span.

“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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