The online sales boost as a result of the pandemic has led to a nationwide warehouse shortage in the UK according to real estate group CBRE.
As businesses mobilised their ecommerce operations during the pandemic, warehouse space has suffered as retailers look to third-party logistics companies to help ease supply issues.
The UK has one of the most developed ecommerce markets in the world however will require an extra 60 million square footage of spare room, or 14 per cent of its existing warehouse space by 2025.
“We think the pandemic may have caused a three to five year acceleration in that shift in how people consume goods [in Europe],” Blackstone head of real estate James Seppala told the Financial Times.
“Goods purchased online require around three times the logistics space [as bricks-and-mortar stores],” he added.
“If you believe in the continued growth of ecommerce it makes sense to believe in the need for logistics space.”
However, experts are the Office for National Statistics (ONS) aren’t quite so optimistic, after publishing figures on Friday indicating that the need for warehouse space will decrease as the need for online retail will shrink as more and more shops open on the high street.
Online spend has seen record levels over the pandemic, with it contributing 36.3 per cent of total UK retail sales in January, which was almost double pre-pandemic figures.
But as bricks-and-mortar retail opened back up, online spend dropped to 27.3 per cent by May, with analysts predicting this trend to continue.
New industries that have opened up such as the rapid grocery delivery market requires plenty of warehouse space for strategically placed “dark stores” in urban areas, putting further strain on the demand.
CBRE senior director Tasos Vezyridis said to the FT: “Supply is struggling to cope with demand, this will drive rents up.”
The increased demand for ultra-fast delivery has also prompted companies to search for more efficient ways of delivering goods, especially in towns and cities.