Online retailers snatch up 52 million sq ft in 6 years

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According to data from Savills commissioned by the UK Warehousing Association the amount of floorspace occupied by online retailers has jumped by an eye-popping 614%.

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Online retailers have increased their UK warehousing floorspace from 8 million sq ft to 60 million sq ft in the six years since 2015.

According to data from Savills commissioned by the UK Warehousing Association the amount of floorspace occupied by online retailers has jumped by an eye-popping 614%.

The figures update data from a 2015 report  ‘The size and make-up of the UK warehouse sector’ first published by UKWA, which createsa comprehensive database of all existing warehouse units in Great Britain over 100,000 sq ft

Savills notes that in 2021 UK total warehouse space has risen by as much as 32% to 566 million sq ft. More of that space is occupied than it was in 2015, with vacancy rates at just 5.4%, compared with 7.5% six years ago.

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

In comparison, online retailers have mushroomed with Amazon taking 12.6 million sq ft  in 2020 alone. Similarly, third party logistics operators (3PLs) and parcel delivery operators have seen an increase of 42% and 51% respectively.

As a result, 3PLs are now the largest group of warehouse occupiers, accounting for 106 million sq ft of stock. This increase is closely linked to the rise of online retail, reflecting the growing demand for fulfilment and direct-to-door delivery.

“The updated report reveals the urgent requirement for more warehousing in the light of massively accelerated online retail, and highlights the need for a fundamental change in land use planning. With this in mind, it is high time that warehousing is accepted as part of infrastructure planning moving forward,” UKWA chief executive Peter Ward said.

“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,” Kevin Mofid, head of industrial & logistics research at Savills, said:

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