Hauliers are turning to other methods of delivery such as transport exchanges now that the economy is starting to show tentative signs of recovery.
Demand for deliveries is picking up as High Street retailers are finally beginning to restock but many hauliers are facing a dilemma when extra custom appears.
Having sold off or down-sized their fleets during the recession, they do not have enough trucks to carry out the extra work but are reluctant to rush off and buy new vehicles at the first signs of an economic upturn.
"There is not enough confidence in the market to encourage hauliers to start purchasing new trucks just yet," said Lyall Cresswell, Managing Director of the Transport Exchange Group that runs Haulage Exchange.
"Many companies fear these tough economic times are not at an end. They face a dilemma – they don’t want to invest but neither do they want to turn away valuable custom. Many more hauliers are now turning to exchanges such as Haulage Exchange to fill the gap.
"In such financially challenging times an exchange such as Haulage Exchange can be a lifeline, allowing hard-pressed companies to expand their business once again without having to risk their capital or tussle with their bank to get finance."
There has been a huge surge of interest in Haulage Exchange over the past year – which saw activity rise by an astonishing 144 per cent in March year on year. There were 3,197 exchanges in March 2010 compared to just 1,311 in March 2009, all for vehicles of 7.5 tonnes and above.
Similarly the number of exchanges arranged for smaller vehicles rose by 73 per cent in a year, with 11,963 exchanges being arranged in March 2010 compared with 6,908 the previous March.
TEG also runs Courier Exchange, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the world’s largest trading exchange for the sameday delivery and express freight industry, with more than 2,000 members.
"Our members can have confidence that they will receive a job well done when they carry out an exchange, as both Haulage Exchange and Courier Exchange carry out careful vetting of members," said Mr Cresswell.
"These include checks of vital documents such as operator licences as well as credit checks, and members are also encouraged to give eBay-style feedback on the service they receive. We know members are proud of their good reputations with their customers and want to protect them.
"I firmly believe that 2010 will be the year of the Exchange as it is an ideal mechanism for companies to use to protect their bottom line, both by ensuring maximum efficiency and by helping them to build up their customer base again."
Haulage Exchange’s sophisticated software platform allows members to receive text or email alerts whenever a suitable load or journey is posted on the Exchange, enabling them to move swiftly to make an arrangement, often at short notice.
TEG also offers a Regular Runs service where companies that do regular trips can post on a timetable when they will have space available for other loads. Alternatively, members can look on an interactive map to search for journeys.
As well as using the Exchange to arrange journeys that they cannot carry out themselves, hauliers can benefit from using it to ensure their own vehicles do not run half-full or even empty on return journeys.
"With Haulage Exchange we make sure that every mile your truck travels counts," said Mr Cresswell. "These days nobody can afford to have vehicles travelling around the country operating at less than full capacity.
"You can wave goodbye to wasted miles and unprofitable backloads with Haulage Exchange."