A study of Victorian Transport Association and Victorian Waste Management Association members has suggested the transport, waste and recycling sectors are reasonably upbeat about the prospects of recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Associations, which represent hundreds of Victorian and national freight, logistics and waste management companies, actively engages with their sectors. As part of this, focussed interviews were held with members to establish baseline information about the effects of COVID-19 in terms of customer retention, relations and revenue, human resources, future investment intentions, and trade expectations.
Among the key findings of the VTA/VWMA COVID-19 IndustryInsights sentiment study:
Despite the downturn in global manufacturing and production, almost half of members (46 per cent) expect international trade to increase over the next four months;
Just one-third of respondents (32 per cent) indicated their staffing levels had changed due to COVID-19 over the last three months; and
Three-quarters of respondents (77 per cent) have not lost any customers since the pandemic took hold.
VTA and VWMA CEO Peter Anderson said feedback indicated a generally positive attitude about the prospects of economic recovery, based on sentiments expressed by the associations’ membership.
“Our industry entered this crisis from a general position of strength because early on we were rightly not identified as non-essential industries, and therefore largely spared from the unprecedented compulsory shutdowns imposed across vast swaths of the economy,” said Peter.
“In fact, demand spikes from consumers saw an even greater need for transport with supermarkets struggling to keep pace with panic buying. The industry responded magnificently to this challenge and we are starting to see a return to normalcy in terms of supermarket supply and demand.”
Peter said the crisis had, however, disrupted customers of operators prompting the VTA/VWMA to canvass its membership on the impacts of coronavirus and how they have responded to keep their businesses sustainable and their workers employed, trying to remain upbeat about the prospects of recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
“While some sectors have remained strong other sectors that rely on specific commodities and products have not fared so well. Food, export goods and hardware products are moving in increased volumes while milk, steel and cash in transit have slowed markedly,” said Peter.
“Three-quarters of the members we interviewed said they have not lost any customers over the past three months since COVID-19 started to take hold and an overwhelming majority of members indicated their relationships with customers had remained positive over this period. This underscores the importance of keeping close to and regularly engaging with customers to help them navigate this difficult time.”
Looking at trading conditions, almost half the members interviewed expected an increase in international trade and exports over the months ahead and another two-thirds said they planned to invest in new capital equipment before the end of the year.
“This is a positive sign that business is still working, with the government’s expansion of the instant asset write-down program a possible factor as well. We encourage industry participants to take advantage of this and other measures to support the industry and economy.”
Peter said employment in the sectors remained strong.
“Thankfully we have been spared mass unemployment experienced elsewhere in the economy. Only a third of members we talked to said coronavirus had impacted their staffing levels in recent months and it is particularly encouraging that almost three-quarters expected they would not have to reduce their headcount to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on their operation.”