You probably had enough petrol to get to work today, but the fuel crisis could start to impact your business in the coming days.
What appears to have been a handful of petrol stations that missed deliveries due to a shortage of drivers has turned into a nationwide panic buying that hasn’t been seen for almost 30 years. I can remember the last fuel crisis and that was genuine, this time it appears to be entirely driven by media reports resulting in half the country heading to petrol stations over the weekend and literally sucking the country dry of petrol and diesel.
Round my way, the entire Newbury/Thatcham area is out of fuel and reports suggest that this extends all the way to surrounding towns such as Bracknell and Reading. There’s not a drop to be had anywhere with every single petrol station being empty this Monday morning.
The fuel crisis will inevitably now last for weeks if not months – those that genuinely need to fill up will be queuing every time there’s a tanker delivery and those that don’t need to fill up will queue like demented creatures in the desperation that if they don’t top up from three quarters of a tank to full they might run out. We could be facing shortages until Christmas as whilst a handful of empty petrol stations could be replenished, now that something like three quarters of the country is running on empty it’s no longer a job of topping up petrol station fuel tanks, they’ve got to be filled from empty.
The knock on impact for your business might not be immediately apparent, but it’s not whether you can get to work or not. It’s whether your parcels will be delivered. Whilst some carriers might have electric delivery vans and some even their own fuel depots, there are vast numbers of self employed and life style couriers working for everyone from Hermes to Amazon and they have to fill their vehicles at the same places that you do.
If carriers run out of fuel then the fuel crisis won’t be simply the essentials of getting to work and going to the supermarket, it’ll flow over into ecommerce deliveries and that’s going to impact every online seller.
Being ever hopeful and optimistic, one might hope that the crazies that immediately went to fill their car to the brim and then topped up every other car in their family might have so much fuel they won’t need to top up for a week or so. The reality is more likely that the rational that didn’t panic are now starting to wish they had panicked and the fuel crisis will only get worse. For every person who’s tank runs dry another 20 will be scared that they’re next and start queuing for fuel.
As is always the case, if you start to see deliveries being delayed the best advice is to step up communications with your customers and keep them informed. The last thing you want is a fuel crisis translating into your marketplace metrics being hit.
PS, If anyone knows where I can get some diesel in the Thatcham area, my car genuinely needs topping up by Friday when I next need to use it!