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COVID-19 and Holiday Season: Commercial Miles Up 9%, Toy and Game Shops See Good Business

By Verizon Connect November 30, 2020

Commercial holiday miles driven continue to increase year over year, with 2019—the latest year for which we have complete data—being no exception. Our research indicates that total miles driven and total stops made have steadily trended upwards in the 2018-2019 season.

This data doesn’t reflect the still-to-come 2020 holiday season and the impact that COVID-19 may or may not have. However, all signs do point to an even bigger increase in demand and miles, as 74% of merchants expect to see a holiday demand spike this year, with 56% believing that spike will be at or above peak 2019 volumes.1 Our preliminary 2020 data thus far shows that while miles per week trended steady upward in 2018 and 2019, distance per week has been uneven and staggered up to Black Friday 2020, likely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we wait for the 2020 holiday season to close and see how commercial holiday driving fared, there are plenty of interesting revelations about the 2018-2019 season. According to analysis from Verizon Connect, hobby toy and game shops had the biggest increase in miles driven year over year, up 103.6% from 542,065 in 2018 to 1,103,897 in 2019.

These figures reveal that companies which use fleets to transport products and make deliveries spent more time on the road during peak holiday travel times in 2019 vs. 2018. The pressure for drivers to maintain on-time deliveries in the face of increased demand while still meeting time constraints means they need every bit of help they can get to optimize schedules and map the fastest routes.

Let’s highlight additional holiday driving findings based on our recent research, and then explore how fleet management technology can help fleets rise to the challenge.

Find the right solution for your business with our free Fleet Management Buyer’s Guide.

Industry travels: seasonal fluctuations and yearly differences

In 2019, overall miles driven/distance increased 8.93% during the holiday season (October-December) compared to 2018, and 1% compared to the rest of 2019, yet miles per day went down 3%. Number of stops also increased during the holiday season, up 8.88% over 2018. And overall, in 2019 compared to 2018, total distance driven commercially went up 9.6%.

When it comes to total miles driven on a statewide basis, Texas is the hands-down frontrunner in 2019 with an astounding 31,263,357 miles. And the state steadily experienced large volume increases in both stops and distance driven throughout the year leading up to the holiday season. However, it wasn’t the state with the biggest increase in miles driven between 2018 and 2019—that honor goes to Massachusetts, with a year over year increase of 39.5% from 6,292,920 in 2018 to 8,779,450 in 2019.

During this time of year, some industries see a more pronounced uptick than others. Here are a few of the industries where demand either went up or down in 2019: 

  • Restaurants/eating places, grocery stores, hobby toy and game shops all saw a year-over-year increase in stops and miles driven during the holiday season.
  • The hobby toy and game shops industry had the biggest increase and the most consistent growth in stops and miles driven across all measured metrics.
  • The general merchandise industry is the only industry that saw a decrease, down 9.1% year-over-year from 34,094,116 in 2018 to 30,989,669 in 2019. It also ranks the lowest in overall stops and miles driven year over year.
  • Surprisingly, year-over-year from 2018 to 2019, liquor stores activity decreased slightly around the holiday season.
  • In the restaurant industry, activity at dining establishments shows a slight decline followed by a spike closer to the holiday season. 

Fleet tracking technology can mitigate seasonal driving demands

With product demand increasing and the number of deliveries on the rise, having the right tools to optimize fleet operations is even more important. Here are a few ways that fleet management technology in particular can help your drivers and vehicles during these busy and unique times.

Technology supports protocols around COVID-19

Fleet management technology can help monitor and track actions related to COVID-19 mitigation:

  • Create geofences around quarantine zones and run historical reports to support contact tracing efforts.
  • Create customizable DVIR forms requesting that drivers submit pictures of a sanitized cab, gloves and mask, etc. as part of the pre- or post-trip inspections.
  • Use mobile forms as a simple health check, requesting a form be submitted by drivers at the beginning and end of each day that includes their temperature reading.
  • Use supply chain integrations to optimize logistics and leverage API capabilities to help identify employee COVID-19 susceptibility and protections, based on age and other demographics.

Automation and smart video elevate safety protocols

Automated vehicle monitoring tracks data that can apply to safety measures and help fleets:

  • Reduce speeding
  • Reduce hard braking and acceleration
  • Track seat belt compliance
  • Leverage live location tracking for driver emergencies

Video technology can provide a permanent visual record of each vehicle’s travels—including weather incidents, harsh driving occurrences, collisions and vehicle operation metrics. In the event of an accident, managers can determine events leading up to the incident. 

Streamlined maintenance improves vehicle health

As vehicles face increasing hours on the road, fleet tracking can help keep them in safe working order by monitoring:

  • Engine diagnostics: Identify issues before they potentially result in major repairs and breakdowns.
  • Engine hour tracking and driver behavior data: Get a better picture of vehicle health and detect behaviors that accelerate wear and tear.
  • Service records tracking: Receive proactive reminders for routine maintenance and automatically track vehicle service and date of completion.

Fleet tracking increases travel efficiency

Fleet management tools can help your organization improve fleet productivity and:

  • Reduce miles driven with optimized routing, mileage trend monitoring and geofences.
  • Improve vehicle utilization with automated asset tracking and alerts.
  • Reduce fuel-wasting behavior and fraud by tracking fuel card usage and identifying suspicious transactions.
  • Keep drivers ready for all conditions and find more efficient routes as conditions change.

Take a deeper dive into how fleets like yours are using fleet management technology to help reduce costs and increase productivity year-round. Download the 2021 Fleet Technology Trends Report here.


Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: COVID-19

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