Haulage prices jump despite more HGV drivers on UK roads

Average Exchange haulage prices increased by 2.89% in September, edging road transport prices close to record highs.

That’s according to the latest HX Price Index, which at the end of September clocked courier prices at 121.2 points – up from 117.8 at the end of August.

The price increase – which is especially notable given ONS figures now show the number of HGV drivers in the UK exceed pre-pandemic levels – coincided with record lows in the value of the pound. The falling value of the pound and the increase in haulage prices are likely to be linked, as weak pounds buy less fuel from overseas. 

Christmas creeping closer probably added to the increase, too: Every year, in the run up to Christmas, prices for road transport services tend to rise. 

The government scrapping a planned reduction in higher-rate taxes eventually reversed the tumbling pound’s fortunes in early October, which may bring some stability to haulage prices going forward. Still, with inflation running far higher than we’ve seen in recent years, and prices for couriers especially surging, road transport prices may reach record highs before the year ends.  

Lyall Cresswell, HX CEO, said: “While the pound’s fall is undoubtedly adding to instability and inflation, the road freight industry is in good shape to meet any upcoming challenges head on. 

“The huge increase in driver numbers is extremely positive news. It means that operators will find it easier to deal with spikes in demand – such as the Christmas rush. 

“Much will depend on how quickly financial markets stabilise – and the transport industry will certainly be watching this closely – but the sector has shown before that it can weather any storm.” 

Kirsten Tisdale, Director of Logistics Consultants Aricia Limited and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, said: 

”What businesses need, probably more than anything else, is a stable environment in which to plan and manage: stable exchange rates to buy goods and commodities, stable supply base and prices, access to a predictable volume of labour, stable interest rates to quantify investment decisions. 

“To say that there continues to be a great deal of uncertainty at the moment is to put it lightly!” 

The Bottom Line 

In the current environment, with multiple macroeconomic factors in flux, it’s hard to say which way prices will move from one month to the next.  

The HX Price Index, however, will continue to give HX members a good idea of how much haulage services should cost. 

The article was published on . It was updated on 30 April 2024 to make it more relevant and comprehensive.