Demand for warehouses in overdrive as online sales increase


If you’re anything like us then the number of online shopping deliveries you’ve been receiving over the past year will be much higher than before lockdown.

The shift to more shopping online has led to a massive increase in overall online sales, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

If you run your own retail business perhaps you’ve realised you need a distribution warehouse to set-up or expand your online offering.

All of this has led to us seeing a huge increase in people enquiring about properties to lease or buy in our industrial and warehouse property sector.

Here’s the lowdown…

What are the headline stats?

  • So far this year, there has been a record number of enquiries for industrial and warehousing, with total enquiries on freehold properties up by 108% compared to the same period in 2020, and total enquiries on leasehold properties up by 38%
  • Rightmove’s Commercial Real Estate portal had its busiest ever day for visits this week on Tuesday 19th January, with over 138,000 visits in one day
  • In December, the number of enquiries in industrial and warehousing outperformed all other sectors:

o    The number of people enquiring to buy a premises was up by 56% on December 2019

o    The number of people enquiring to lease a premises was up by 43% on December 2019

o    Across Q4, the annual increase in enquiries for freehold in this sector was highest in the South East (+85%), London (+84%) and the East Midlands (+77%)

o    Across Q4, the annual increase in enquiries for leasehold in this sector was highest in the South East (+38%), East of England (+37%) and the West Midlands (+32%)

What do the experts say?

Alex Solomon, Director of our Commercial Real Estate portal, said: “Retailers have been adapting since the first lockdown last year to expand their online set-ups, and with that has come a change in what they want from a commercial property.

“There’s been a greater need for warehouses of all sizes to respond to the increased demand from people shopping online, which has led to demand in the industrial and warehousing sector going into overdrive.

“Agents are reporting an extremely high conversion rate from businesses enquiring for warehouse space, with new leases being agreed quickly.

“While enquiries for retail outlets are still higher than before the pandemic, the rate of conversion is slower, suggesting people are considering a relocation to another outlet or starting up a new business, but until there is more certainty around when non-essential retailers can open again this pace is likely to remain much slower than that of industrial spaces.”

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