Online retailers increase UK warehouse footprint by 52 million sq ft

According to the latest report by Savills, commissioned by the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), online retailers have increased their warehouse footprint in the UK from 8 million to 60 million sq ft (743,224 sq m to 5.57 million sq m)  in the past six years, a jump of 614%.

The report attributes this to the structural shift away from the high street witnessed by the retail sector, which has been further accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report, titled ‘The size and make-up of the UK warehouse sector’, was first published by UKWA in 2015, following research by Savills, to create a comprehensive database of all existing warehouse units in Great Britain over 100,000 sq ft (9,290 sq m).

Looking at occupier mix, Savills research shows that there has been significant changes since the publication of the original report.

In 2015 high street retailers were the dominant occupier of warehouse space accounting for 84 million sq ft (7.8 million sq m), increasing their total footprint by just 5% in the last six years.

In comparison, online retailers have seen a jump of 614%, now accounting for 60 million sq ft (5.57 million sq m). Amazon took 12.6 million sq ft (1.17 million sq m) in 2020 alone. Third party logistics operators (3PLs) and parcel delivery operators have seen an increase of 42% and 51% respectively.

Kevin Mofid, head of industrial & logistics research at Savills, said: “It comes as no surprise that we have seen a considerable increase in the amount of space occupied by online retailers, 3PLs and parcel delivery operators in the past six years. Whilst the shift to online has been talked about for years, these figures exemplify what a significant impact it has had on the makeup of the UK warehouse market in a relatively short space of time. Research from industrial developer Prologis has stated that for every £1 billion spent online a further 775,000 sq ft of warehouse space is needed to meet this new demand, and as we can see from the recently updated database, despite the growth in stock vacancy rates continue to decline.”

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