The market for warehouses and distribution centers in the U.S. and elsewhere is on an incredible, multiyear run. Don’t expect that to abate any time soon.
The primary reason that this market has so much momentum remaining: E-commerce has caused a structural change in the market rather than a cyclical one. The market’s floor has risen significantly because so many goods now are purchased online and shipped directly to homes that previously took different routes.
E-commerce’s impact on the U.S. warehouse-and-DC space, which we at CBRE call the Industrial & Logistics market, is arguably historic. Average asking rents for U.S. warehouses have risen for 25 consecutive quarters. Net demand for warehouse space has remained positive for 31 consecutive quarters, a record streak. Availability of warehouses for lease is near its lowest point since 2000.
Meanwhile, the physical structure of warehouses has changed dramatically to accommodate e-commerce. They’re larger to facilitate a faster throughput of more goods. CBRE research found that the average size of newly built warehouses in the U.S. has more than doubled to roughly 185,000 sq. ft. (nearly 17,200 sq. m.) in the past 15 years.
Much of that increase is due to a proliferation of megawarehouses of 1 million sq. ft. (93,000 sq. m.) or more. These “big bombers” often are constructed past the edge of major metropolitan areas, putting them within a one-day drive of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in multiple markets. Hotbeds for construction of these megawarehouses include eastern Pennsylvania, California’s Inland Empire and the Dallas-Fort Worth market in Texas.