Pressure on retailers to accept night-time deliveries looks set to mount after ministers and suppliers welcomed the results of trials that demonstrated the vast "economic and road safety benefits" of delivering goods quietly out of hours.

The Quiet Delivery Demonstration Scheme (QDDS) trials, which involved six grocery stores across England, proved that when certain measures were adopted, deliveries could be conducted throughout the night without disturbing residents.

The results could lead to many local authorities relaxing their 9pm to 7am delivery curfews, a move which has been backed by transport minister Mike Penning and suppliers including Nisa-Today's, which is already trialling early morning deliveries in some of its London stores.

"These trials show that by following proven methodology, shop owners and supermarkets can receive deliveries out-of-hours without being a nuisance to residents," Penning said. He added that he "looked forward to seeing more examples of retailers and local authorities working together" on the issue.

Stores and suppliers in trial areas modified roll cages and agreed not to sound horns and to switch off reversing alarms and engines when they were not manoeuvring.

Nisa-Today's distribution director Jonathan Stowe told C-Store that conducting night-time deliveries would help cut costs by maximising engine operating efficiency.

"Night deliveries mean we can complete an extra journey per vehicle per day, reducing transport costs and allowing us to be more price competitive to give independent convenience retailers the chance to compete on price with the major multiples," he added.

A number of local authorities and councils including Westminster Council are already looking to relax night-time delivery restrictions prior to the 2012 Olympic games. However, as C-Store revealed last month (June 10, 2011), many retailers are fearful of the staffing challenges that this could herald.