How did COVID-19 impact city logistics in Amsterdam?

Walther Ploos van Amstel, a professor in city logistics at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, looks back on the impact of COVID-19 on city logistics in Amsterdam. Total freight traffic went down 10 to 15 percent at the beginning of the lockdown, but in May 2020 was back at 2019 volumes. The major lesson learned during COVID-19: use data and collaborate.

Construction logistics

Construction is by far the most important city logistics volume. Covid-19 did not impact the local construction industry. With less congestion, the construction companies did an 8 percent plus in production during the corona crisis. However, fear is a slow down in construction volumes after the Summer of 2020.


Foodservice (to HoReCa) lost 90% in volume when bars, hotels, and restaurants closed on March 13, 2020. Food retail showed an increase of 30 to 40% with a shift from away-from-home to at-home. Thanks to sharing supply chain data transport companies could shift capacity from foodservice to food retail.

Many cities facilitated transport companies with longer time windows and the possibility for night deliveries. The national government allowed for longer working days for truck drivers. This created greater flexibility in planning. Foodservice companies doing transport on own account are no looking for outsourcing options to become more flexible.

E-groceries doubled in volume during the corona crisis. Companies like Local Heroes (local-for-local), Albert Heijn, Jumbo, and Picnic did no accept new customers for several weeks and limited the number of shipping options.

Retail non-food

Retail non-food lost 10 tot 80 percent in sales (except for DIY products with a major plus of 30 percent), but is slowly picking up starting May 2020; retail sales in non-food is up 8 percent compared to 2019.


The volume of B2B parcels went down 50 percent, B2C grew with 50 percent. For local B2C players, PostNL and DHL Christmas started early, mid-March, and is still going on. The average parcel was 10 to 15 percent larger in size. B2C deliveries were more efficient because consumers were home more often. Also, there was a strong growth of pick up of parcels in Amsterdam at e.g. Parcls.

Household waste was up with 30 to 50 percent (also due to packaging materials from e-commerce orders). There is a clearly a strong need for more on-demand collection planning.

The new measures under the anderhalvemetermaatschappij-rules are leading to many streets closed for traffic during a part of the day to create room for people walking and biking and terraces. This is making city logistics more complex again today.

Walther Ploos van Amstel.

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