The effect of the pandemic on moving companies

Published 2020-11-06 09:30:00
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The Covid19 pandemic has been a breaking news topic worldwide since February 2020, and it is continuing to change daily life everywhere. International travel bans and national lockdown in many countries are having a big impact on the moving and relocation industry worldwide.

Moving away from big cities

Throughout the summer, more and more people started to move out of New York. In Manhattan there are more than 13.000 empty apartments, and numbers are going up. In the meantime, houses in the suburbs and nearby towns are becoming more expensive. On Long Island, six people made offers on a $499,000 house in Valley Stream without seeing it in person after it was shown on a Facebook Live video.

Fox5NY reported that moving companies in New York have been working hard since March, when the Covid19 pandemic started. This has been difficult for staff members, especially in the summer when they had to wear masks in the heat, but also having to face the stress of getting in contact with so many people and then going back to their families. In the article, Nancy Zafrani, the manager of Oz, a moving company in New York says that people are leaving the city for economic reasons. While the company was expecting an increase in business, they didn’t expect it to be this quickly or this intense.

The article cited another company, FlatRate Moving, that had a 30-40% increase from 2019. David Giampietro, their chief administrative officer says that most people just want to get out of the city because the apartment is too small or they don’t have a backyard, so they are looking for more space.

In other US cities the situation is quite different. John Sheridan, the owner of A Friend With A Truck, a moving company in Kansas City says that the pandemic has slowed things down considerably, and they're only doing about half the business they were at this time last year. In an article posted on a Kansas City website, Sheridan said:

"A handful of people have been worried about coronavirus so they have canceled moves, apartment complexes have put freezes on leases so people have not had to move out or move in".

The company has six employees working at this time and their protocols have changed as they now have to wear face masks and gloves for everyone’s safety.

In Asia, high demand affected by regulations

In the Asia-Pacific region, FIDI Focus (the website of the international moving industry) reported that movers and customers experienced significant delays in customs clearance and deliveries, because of the changing regulations caused by the Covid19 pandemic.

In China many complexes and apartment buildings are currently not allowing outside workers and vehicles to enter. Asian Tigers' China said they had been contacted by many expats who had left China during the new year holidays but who now wanted their goods packed and shipped overseas without having to return to the country in person, and issued instructions to those who wanted to do this. Due to its lower capacity and stricter security and hygiene controls, the company introduced an ‘Emergency Pandemic Surcharge’, which would apply to all jobs until the situation returned to normal, as the scale and impact of this disaster is unprecedented in the moving industry.

For the moving business in Hong Kong, things are also moving fast. Rob Chipman, the CEO of Asian Tigers’ Hong Kong said that outbound business is extraordinarily busy for this time of the year, their surveyors are all out, and all their packing crews are fully booked, while inbound business has decreased significantly. In addition to the pandemic crisis, the months of protests and tightening political pressure from China as obviously convinced many expats to move away.

Chipman added that there were other effects on the region too, such as increased volatility in the price of ocean freight, which was "making pricing difficult and in many cases, hammering our margins – so while business is up, our margins and profits have not kept pace". As many airlines have cancelled flights, it has also been increasingly difficult to secure freight slots, he said, while increased inspections were leading to delays. 

Keeping up with the new rules

Moving into a new home or office is always a challenge, but moving during a pandemic is definitely adding to the stress and not only for the people moving but also for the moving companies. Since March these companies are faced with many problems caused by the constant change of regulations and safety measures imposed.

Transportation of cargo and household goods are generally allowed in spite of generalized lockdown, but shipments are increasingly facing delays in port due to stricter customs measures and slower clearance processes, leading to demurrage and storage charges. As a consequence of international travel bans, many scheduled international moves have been delayed or cancelled.

Faced with this global crisis, international moving and relocation companies have had to adapt and implement certain measures, in line with local rules and regulations. While it is difficult to keep track of international developments as they happen, FIDI - the global alliance of quality-certified international moving and relocation companies is encouraging all affiliates and partners to keep up-to-date by checking with local authorities on applicable rules and regulations in each country, and by consulting recognized information and media channels. For this purpose FIDI listed on their website a list of useful resources:

In the middle of the pandemic, many companies have been contacted by expats wanting to move back to their home countries and asking for quotes but not giving a definite time for their move. There is a lot of uncertainty as the economic crisis is affecting more businesses, and expatriates are waiting for the pandemic to be over, not knowing whether they should stay around or move back. In any case, for expats that were planning to return to their home countries over the next few years, now seems a better time than ever.

If you are planning a move and/or looking for quotes and information to plan your international removal, we recommend the following links:

Share your experience, participate in the discussion and leave comments in our forum HERE.

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Moving Abroad

Author: Oana Tamas
I am passionate about life. Nature, people, art and everything that is making its magic on this beautiful planet, is worth our attention. I believe that communication is the key of life and wellbeing and I am a content writer for

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