Fighting empty shelves: stress test for the logistics industry

Fighting empty shelves: stress test for the logistics industry

In view of empty shelves, many consumers are growing increasingly fearful of shortages of goods in germany: but retailers, logistics companies and package delivery companies are sounding the all-clear. Warehouses are still well stocked, supply chains in germany are tense but stable.

"We don’t have a trap where logistics has a dropout to supply industry, trade and the population," said frank huster, chief executive officer of the german freight forwarding and logistics association (DSLV), to the deutsche presse-agentur.

The main challenge at the moment is to get the goods into the stores quickly enough to cope with the current rush of customers, the german retail association (HDE) stressed. There was enough merchandise. The factory closings in the industry and the store closings in the trade even made this task easier, it was said at the DSLV. Because the elimination of these deliveries freed up trucks for supply runs.

The trade, however, is hoping for a slackening of hamster purchases in the near future. "People will quickly realize that supplies are secure and everything is there – and that takes away their fear," a spokesman for the bavarian trade association said on wednesday. This was similar in italy. Moreover, the stocks of those who stocked up would eventually be filled as well. "If i have 100 rolls of toilet paper, what am i going to do with the next 50??"

Instead, in the next few weeks, the online trade could experience a new boom. After all, many shops in the city centers, from fashion stores to perfumeries, are closed for weeks. But parcel delivery companies such as deutsche post, hermes and DPD were convinced in a survey by the deutsche presse-agentur that they were prepared for a possible flood of parcels.

Market leader deutsche post DHL is not yet seeing an increase in parcel volumes. "But of course that may change in the next few days," said a company spokesman. In any case, the post office is used to dealing with strong fluctuations in parcel volumes. "We can shoulder it.". This also applies in times of the coronavirus epidemic. Even if individual mail and parcel centers had to be temporarily closed due to the new disease, the post office was in a position to compensate for such a shortfall by redirecting them to other locations.

According to the company, its competitor hermes has also so far not experienced any restrictions or delays in deliveries in germany. The arranged business loops do indeed thin out the network of hermes parcel stations. But the effect is limited. "We currently assume that 70 to 80 percent of our nationwide over 16.000 parcel stores will remain open because they are integrated into basic service facilities," a company spokesman emphasized. The parcel delivery company DPD reported that it had more shipments from private customers, but fewer from business customers, which balanced each other out overall.

Supply chains in europe are currently undergoing an enormous stress test. Because the border controls introduced due to the corona virus sometimes led to long traffic jams and major delays in the transport of goods within europe. There are long waiting times, especially on the border with poland and also in the direction of the czech republic, stressed the german logistics association. The situation is also tense at border crossings between alsace and germany. Between belgium, the netherlands and germany, on the other hand, things are running surprisingly smoothly.

The coronavirus pandemic has not yet had a measurable impact on the transport of goods by inland waterway, according to the german inland waterway transport association (BDB). Restrictions in cross-border traffic are not yet an issue here at the present time. However, the strict entry and quarantine regulations in neighboring european countries, such as the czech republic, hungary, poland and slovakia, are causing increasing problems for the industry. International nautical personnel are on board numerous inland waterway vessels, the BDB emphasized. Ship’s crews who traveled to their home country during their off-shift risked being denied permission to leave the country or being placed in a 14-day quarantine if they entered it. "We will have massive problems keeping the ships running in the coming days because we simply don’t have the personnel to operate them," warned BDB president martin staats.

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