Current freight delays explained

Experiencing freight delays in Australia? This is what is behind the current slowdown on package deliveries, as explained by industry insiders.


There is no denying these are challenging times.

After weeks of lockdown and a perfect storm of surges in demand and workers being forced into isolation, many businesses and their customers are feeling the effects of freight delays.

At EFS, we are in constant contact with freight companies around the country. Recently, our contacts have shared some of the reasons why many deliveries are taking so much longer than usual.

Firstly, extra safety protocols are slowing down production chains, especially in NSW and Victoria, which have been in lockdown for several weeks. In line with the Government directive, many transport companies are operating at reduced on-site staff and have social distancing measures in place. This slows down the sortation processes at the depot level.

Many businesses are operating on reduced hours or with people working from home, which puts further strain on things. With fewer administrative staff on-site, there are delays to POD uploads and manual POD deliveries.

Out on the roads, drivers are being delayed at border checkpoints as authorities check to confirm if they can travel to their destination.

Those who are travelling interstate must be tested for COVID every three days. If they come down with a slight cough or sniffle, they are asked not to come to work until they have a negative test result. This is exacerbating driver shortages which were being experienced even before COVID.

If there does happen to be an infected worker, those who have been in contact with them are required to stay home for up to two weeks. Subcontractors are called in but they are unfamiliar with runs and it is understandable that delivery times are extended.

On the retail side of things, many businesses are closed, meaning excessive freight is left in the depots. When it comes to supermarkets, outbreaks in staff and cleaners have resulted in people being forced to stay home from work. There are fewer workers to restock shelves so there is a backlog on orders once staff do return to the job.

With everything above going on, it is easy to understand why there are so many delays. Deliveries that would usually take place overnight or within a couple of days are blowing out to more than a week. Even getting through to customer service teams can be difficult because of the high volume of customer calls.

The delays are being reported widely online, with Business Insider sharing that Australia’s online shoppers may face delayed parcel deliveries through to Christmas. Australia Post has even paused pick-ups from e-commerce retailers for three days in September in order to reduce the strain on the nation’s delivery system amongst record parcel delivery volumes.

On a side note, Australia Post has been able to help those out of work by creating new jobs to meet the current demand for deliveries, which has understandably increased as people shop from home.

We know from speaking with freight providers that everyone is doing their utmost to meet demand and keep people informed. The good news is that the Government is also on side, with Infrastructure and Transport Ministers putting measures in place including:

  • The removal or suspension of curfews for heavy vehicle deliveries
  • Freezing heavy vehicle charges to support the operators of heavy vehicles, many of whom are small businesses
  • Granting a national exemption from border restrictions for non-cruise maritime crew for the safe movement of crew into Australia and across borders
  • Allowing roadhouses, truck stop facilities and truck driver lounges to remain open
  • Establishing national consistency for the movement of freight across domestic borders.

The above are helping to ease the pressure but the best advice right now is to order as far in advance as you can, communicate with customers and make a plan to accommodate a surge in ordering over Christmas, such as adding Christmas delivery cutoff dates to your website so buyers know they need to place orders sooner rather than later.

Need support to lock in a delivery provider? Talk to the experts at EFS.