Beware Christmas jams – on the road

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

18M people (and lots of turkeys) are expected to take to the nation's roads today
18M people (and lots of turkeys) are expected to take to the nation's roads today

Related tags: Road

Traffic jams nationwide could frustrate Christmas deliveries today – the busiest getaway day of the festive season, with more than 14M people taking to the roads, warns the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

That’s despite 400 miles of roadworks are being cleared off motorways and A-roads over the holidays. Highways England has completed or paused 148 projects by 6am on Wednesday December 23 – representing 98% of roadworks currently underway – to speed the festive getaway.

The pause will last until midnight on 2 January.

Delays this weekend

But the FTA warned the plan will not ease the delays this weekend and stressed keeping routes free-running all year round was vital to the UK’s logistics industry.

Praising ‘the pause plan’, the FTA’s head of road network policy Malcolm Bingham, said: “This demonstrates what can be done to help motorists when needed.  Delays create cost for the industry. It costs £1 a minute for a 44-t heavy goods vehicle to stand still in traffic and there is also the knock-on effect when contracts can’t be delivered on time and deadlines are missed.

“All of this piles addition financial pressure on operators who work on very tight profit margins.”

Meanwhile, delivery firm FedEx confirmed it was set to deliver nearly 10,000 turkeys in just 24 hours this festive season, nearly a 10% increase from last year.

Despite reports of festive shoppers shunning turkeys this year in favour of other foods, Kelly Turkeys reported sales of more than £4.8M this year.

‘10,000 turkeys to UK customers’

Delays don't pay

​It costs £1 a minute for a 44-t heavy goods vehicle to stand still in traffic ...​ 

  • Malcolm Bingham, FTA

“Turnover has increased by over 17% in the past two years, with the brand expected to deliver almost 10,000 turkeys to UK customers this December,”​ said the business.

Founded in 1971, Kelly Turkeys started with the production of the standard white turkey before specialising in bronze turkeys more than 30 years ago.

The next step for the business will be to grow sales in the lucrative US Thanksgiving market, said the firm's Paul Kelly. After buying a small farm in Virginia following a trial marketing exercise, KellyBronze turkeys were said to be the centre piece of 1,200 Thanksgiving tables across the country.

US sales growth was expected to mirror UK growth – with plans to introduce the breed nationally and double sales year-on-year for the foreseeable future.

“The US market is enormous and we're eager to pursue the opportunities that lie across the pond,”​ said Kelly.

“We're still in the early stages, but we’re aiming for peak sales of 20,000 turkeys within five years,”​ he said. With the expertise FedEx already provides for us in the UK, we are certain they will deliver the same quality service for domestic distribution throughout the states​.”

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