Britain’s van drivers and operators’ confidence has taken a knock since the EU referendum and general election, a new study has suggested.

According to a phased study by Mercedes-Benz Vans – which started in April and ran through to August, business confidence and career optimism levels have fallen since the election in June.

Although the majority (87%) of the 2,000 van owners and operators polled are confident of business growth, this has fallen by 3% between April and August, with Brexit and general election negotiations casting doubt about the future of the economy.

Mercedes said Londoners are most optimistic – with 92% forecasting growth – however, this falls across the UK to 82% in the east of England.

The firm’s research, however, found the outlook by no means gloomy, with 47% of operators saying they are planning on recruiting, more than half suggesting they will invest in more vans in the next year and 44% indicating their business will become more reliant on vans in the next year as the trend towards online shopping continues.

However, congestion could be a killer, with 30% saying it could prevent growth and delivery companies said they are losing 15% of their working hours to gridlock.

“This study represents an independent and unique look at this diverse and hard-working community who keep British businesses moving – the delivery drivers, van owners, tradespeople, service engineers and businesses both large and small across the nation who rely on vans to ply their trade, reach customers, deliver goods and services or serve new markets,” said Steve Bridge, managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “It is therefore deeply concerning that business optimism has taken a dip, with congestion cited as a key barrier to growth; quite simply, it is unacceptable that businesses are losing six hours a week to gridlock. These hard working van users should not have to worry about whether or not they can fulfil their business needs because of bottlenecks and traffic chaos.”