Industry optimism grows on Covid-19 recovery path

VTA/VWMA study a snapshot of virus impact and operator response

Industry optimism grows on Covid-19 recovery path
Peter Anderson


A Victorian study shows transport and waste management operators see the light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel and are "reasonably upbeat" about economic recovery.

An study of Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and Victorian Waste Management Association (VMWA)  members – comprising hundreds of Victorian and national freight, logistics and waste management companies – explored baseline information on the effects of the pandemic in terms of customer retention, relations and revenue, human resources, future investment intentions, and trade expectations, the associations explain.

Among the key findings of the VTA/VWMA Covid-19 IndustryInsights sentiment study:

  • despite the downturn in global manufacturing and production, 46 per cent of respondents expect international trade to increase over the next four months
  • 32 per cent indicated their staffing levels had changed due to Covid-19  over the last three months
  • 77 per cent have not lost any customers since the pandemic took hold.

VTA and VWMA CEO Peter Anderson says feedback indicates a generally positive attitude about the prospects of economic recovery.

"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," Anderson says.

"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."

VTA's virus response included starting a driver exchange program

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.

The disruptions on customers of operators sees the VTA/VWMA monitor its members’ responses to keep their businesses sustainable and their workers employed.

"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," Anderson says.

"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," Anderson says.

"We encourage industry participants to take advantage of this and other measures to support the industry and economy."

"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."

The Covid-19 IndustryInsights study can be accessed here.

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