Confidence among UK logistics providers fell in the second half of 2012, due to many expecting a worsening outlook in the future.
That is according to the latest UK Logistics Confidence Index, which stood at 52.5 for the final six months of last year, down 10 per cent from half one. The decline in confidence reflects changing levels of consumer demand, mounting pressure on margins and perpetual concerns over fuel costs.
Nearly half of all firms (42 per cent) who answered the survey are also anticipating a continuation of the challenging economic outlook that has characterised so much of the past five years, with no discernible change anticipated in the next six months.
On top of this, 41 per cent expect conditions to become even more difficult in the next half-year, a 58 per cent on the proportion feeling like this at the same time six months ago.
Despite this decline in confidence levels, the overall picture still remains relatively optimistic when looking at 2013, with most expecting to increase their profits (52 per cent) and capital expenditure (57 per cent) in the first half of 2013. Nearly four in ten (37 per cent) also expect to be in a position to take on new staff within this period, creating new careers in logistics as a result.
When it comes to new methods of achieving growth, innovation in the supply chain is expected to be key, with 28 per cent planning to invest in IT and 24 per cent in collaborative solutions.
Rob Riddleston, head of transport and logistics at Barclays, said: "Logistics businesses have often been viewed as 'commodity' type providers by their customers, and therefore the development and offering of new services across the entire supply chain will help to change this perception.
"Greater opportunities in collaboration exist, but the challenge is getting the much needed buy-in and change amongst all customers."