The COVID-19 pandemic upended significant aspects of daily life, including where many people work and live. Substantial numbers of people relocated, but the moving industry itself was also powerfully affected by the pandemic.
Industry leaders, such as Guardian Auto Transport, a California-based auto transport company, have needed to adopt new strategies to stay strong in the face of these COVID setbacks. Here’s an exclusive look into how the moving industry changed and how the fittest adapted to the pandemic.
Roughly one-fifth of adults either moved or know someone who did in 2020. There are several reasons why so many people moved during the height of the pandemic.
The ability to work from home gave employees increased freedom to decide where they live. After all, why would people pay high rent to live near their offices if they didn’t have to commute to them anymore? As the pandemic continued, more and more people moved, often to smaller towns with cheaper real estate.
Other factors also led to these increased rates of relocation. Some people moved to less densely populated areas in an attempt to decrease their risk of catching COVID. Other people moved when their current residence closed, such as college students living in dorms.
As with many industries, moving companies have found it challenging to hire and retain employees. A catch-22 hit the moving industry: increased demand for service with a decreased available workforce.
The reasons for hiring difficulties are complex. Employers often cite high unemployment benefits while prospective workers blame low wages.
Of course, moving is challenging work and requires specific physical skills. As the job market expanded, many professional movers left their jobs for better pay and less demanding labor.
The pandemic and resulting supply shortage led to skyrocketing gas prices and record profits for ExxonMobil and Chevron. While fuel costs affect all businesses to some extent, they can profoundly impact a moving company, as driving large vehicles plays a huge role in daily operations.
The longer the moving distance, the more of an influence fuel costs have. Additionally, because many people were moving from high-density to low-density population centers, they often moved significant distances.
Unexpected peak moving times
Traditionally, the middle of May through the end of August is when most people move and, consequently, most moving companies see their busiest times. Often, over half of all moving business occurs during these months. The summer months are popular among families with children on school break.
However, the peak moving season changed in 2021. Those without children, whose only ties to their location was its proximity to their job, could move whenever they wanted. Also, because many schools had erratic schedules and online learning, more than a few parents thought moving wouldn’t be a significant disruption.
The ramifications of COVID-19 have affected the moving industry in several unique ways. Working from home allowed many people the freedom to move to new areas, placing an unexpected demand on moving companies. At the same time, high fuel costs and a labor shortage have strained the industry.
The moving industry is undoubtedly in a time of flux, and it remains to be seen which changes are only temporary and what will remain a permanent part of the industry.