Urban freight policies and distribution channels

Urban areas are vital centers of economic activity and innovation generating large economies of density and proximity. Yet, procuring and distributing goods in an urban context is fraught with difficulties because of infrastructure congestion, external costs, conflicting objectives among stakeholders, and asymmetric information. In order to improve the performance of the urban goods transport system many policies have been proposed, including goods vehicle time windows, vehicle-type restrictions, loading\unloading policies, fiscal policies, the promotion urban transhipment and consolidation centres. Unfortunately, not much is known concerning how these policies affect the existing distribution practices. It is quite likely that the impact is differentiated by type of product and distribution channel. The aim of this paper is to explore this issue. Drawing on the existing literature and on the empirical evidence from some Italian cities, the paper identifies and discusses the relationship between each of the above-mentioned policies and the distribution channels of some goods (fresh food sold in retail stores, food distributed by Hotels, Restaurants and Catering (Ho.Re.Ca.), pharmaceutical products and clothing&footwear) which are commonly distributed in Italian urban centers. It is found that the distribution of pharmaceutical products is unaffected by these policies, whereas the distribution of fresh food is negatively affected especially by access time regulation and loading\unloading policies. The Ho.Re.Ca. and the clothing&footwear channels are likely to be impacted the most by fiscal policies and by the promotion of urban transhipment and consolidation centres.

Danielis, R., Rotaris, L., Marcucci, E., (2010), Urban freight policies and distribution channels, European Transport – Trasporti Europei, (46), pp. 114-146

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