Congestion: Myth 2

Congestion: Myth 2

E-commerce has a zero net effect on congestion.

Online shopping is putting more delivery trucks on the road and increasing congestion, particularly at the curb.

It was long thought that the rise of e-commerce would be, at worst, neutral in terms of congestion. The theory was that any increase in delivery truck traffic would be more than offset by a reduction in solo trips to the mall in private vehicles. Changes in consumer behavior enabled by e-commerce have upended this expectation, however. Fast, free shipping, which has become the standard for online sellers, has not only increased orders but also raised the number of single package deliveries. In addition, about 30% of online orders end up being returned, compared to 9% for traditional sales. This creates extra trips. The problem is particularly acute in neighborhoods where congestion is already bad, like urban cores. There, delivery companies compete for space at the curb, often double parking and obstructing traffic.


The National Parking Association commissioned a top-10 consulting firm to produce a
report on reducing congestion. The result: “Parking is a solution to congestion.”

The report, “An Ecosystem Approach to Reducing Congestion,” reaffirms the role of
parking in our cities. For the full study, visit

© 2018 PwC. All rights reserved.
Produced with the participation of the National Parking Association

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