Volumes in the pallet sector for the first half of 2023 were 6.3% higher than pre-pandemic levels, with next day and timed deliveries growing by 5%, according to latest figures.

Following fluctuations and peaks in demand in 2021 and 2022, the Association of Pallet Networks (APN) said the half-year results showed a more stable, predictable pattern, albeit with significantly higher volumes than in 2019.

However, total pallet volumes for Q2 2023 were 3.2% down compared to the same period in 2022.

The APN said customers’ choice of service suggested a resilience to inflation, with next day and timed deliveries increasing compared to Q1, although still 3.5% lower than Q2 2022.

Premium services now account for 61.2% of the total volume, with economy 38.8%.

“Despite the focus on rising prices in 2023, it is clear that freight customers and their end users value premium delivery services,” said APN chairman Paul Sanders.

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“In particular it is worth noting that half of all B2C deliveries are choosing a next day service.”

In the first six months of 2023, 17.3% of all pallets were delivered to residential addresses, an increase from 15.9% in 2022.

The APN figures also showed that pallet volumes are still 6.5% higher than in 2019 and half pallets 4.5% higher.

However, quarter pallets, which are closely associated with the B2C market, declined by 3.3%.

In 2022, quarter pallets accounted for 56.9% of all next-day B2C pallets, and 19.5% of quarter pallets delivered to date in 2023 are to residential addresses.

Across all pallet networks there was a 15.2% reduction in accidents this year, with an average of 0.4 accidents per 100,000 pallets delivered.