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Pallet network residential deliveries have risen to unprecedented levels during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Association of Pallet Networks (APN).

It said the first quarter of 2020 saw 14% of pallet network volumes being delivered to residential addresses, but this rose to almost 36% during April.

The APN said the rise in residential deliveries was largely driven by consumer demand for hi-tech equipment, food and drink, gardening and DIY products during the pandemic.

APN chairman Paul Sanders, said: “Pallet networks have traditionally been seen as providing B2B services, although in recent years we have seen a gradual increase in residential deliveries. But the national lockdown saw home deliveries rise to unprecedented levels.”

He added: “Home delivery volumes remained strong even as lockdown eased – more than half a million pallets were delivered to homes during July.”

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Recent research from Royal Mail suggests garden products and DIY equipment were among the most popular items for home delivery between April and July 2020, products which pallet networks are well equipped to deliver efficiently, Sanders said.

“Our members have the capability, capacity and skill to deliver a wide range of freight, from hi-tech goods to food and drink, in a safe and efficient way,” he added.

An APN survey of pallet network customers revealed that having coronavirus-safe deliveries was important to customers with three quarters of those surveyed saying this was one of the most important delivery factors.

“Our members were instrumental in quickly creating safe and secure contactless deliveries. Members work closely on health and safety issues; best practice in this area was developed at the start of lockdown and was well received by customers and end consumers,” he said.

The Association of Pallet Networks includes Palletways, Fortec, Palletline, United Pallet Network, Pallet Track, Pall-Ex, Palletforce and The Pallet Network. Between them the eight networks haves around 650 hauliers, 30,000 vehicles and over 13 million sq ft of warehouse space.