It’s official – Christmas can be a difficult time for the logistics sector.

So tricky, in fact, that many logistics firms have been wondering since the summer whether they will be able to meet demand over the festive season this year, according to the latest UK Logistics Confidence Index prepared for Barclays and Moore Stephens.

The wild peaks in volumes of recent Christmas seasons are, of course, the main reason for their concern, though this has been compounded this year by the continuing driver shortage and a lack of good quality warehousing space, after new warehouse development all but ceased in reaction to the recession a few years ago.

According to the survey, 51.5% of operators say they expect volumes to be up again this year, while 44% expect no change and 4% predict activity will drop. Around 21% of operators plan to take on extra staff with 15% taking on extra vehicles in at attempt to cope.

Rob Riddleston, Head of Transport & Logistics at Barclays, said the increasing concentration of peaks brought about by the growth in online shopping in recent years had made the Christmas squeeze ever harder for the delivery sector.

“Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays have changed retail buying patterns quite considerably in the last few years and have an impact on the logistics industry. The last thing it wants it to have to deal with peaks and to have it focused into two or three days or weekends makes it even more challenging.”

It came as the report set out a likely leap in business consolidation in the next six months.