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HGV traffic hit a three-month high on the weekend of 11-12 April as many non-essential shops, restaurants and pubs prepared to re-open, according to DfT figures.

The weekend’s HGV traffic was 15% above the pre-pandemic figure, a level last recorded in the build-up to Christmas.

The government report revealed that HGV traffic plummeted by as much as 40% in the midst of the first lockdown but bounced back strongly and has maintained pre-lockdown volumes since the start of September.

Pallet networks also reported record volumes over the period, with some members struggling to meet demand as retailers and the hospitality industry geared up to open on the back of a busy Easter.

HGV operators also had to contend with a rise in car traffic, up on 12 April at 86% of normal pre-lockdown volumes - the highest level since October.

Greg Wilson, founder of comparison website, said: “It will be a great relief for people in the retail and hospitality industries that they're moving towards re-opening after what must have been a frustrating time for many business owners and their staff.

“The spike in HGV traffic shows the important role these drivers have in prepping our shops and restaurants for what will hopefully be a return to near normal trade. HGVs have been the one type of road traffic that has remained consistently high throughout the pandemic, showing the vital support they provide to local communities.”