The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting surge in online shopping have led to a tremendous increase in the demand for warehouse space in the UK. Property adviser JLL reported that in 2020, businesses leased over 35 million square feet of space in large warehouses, representing a 64% increase compared to the previous year. Additionally, warehouses measuring over 100,000 square feet experienced a 40% growth compared to the five-year average.

There are two main factors contributing to the increased demand for warehouse space. Firstly, the pandemic necessitated the need for warehousing services to store essential items like personal protective equipment (PPE) for the National Health Service (NHS). Secondly, the booming e-commerce industry has created a surge in online orders, leading to the need for additional warehousing space to accommodate these increased volumes.

Online retailers, in particular, have played a significant role in driving the demand for warehouse space in 2020. The Office for National Statistics reported that online retailers accounted for more than 40% of the take-up in warehouse space, as they adapted to meet the growing demand. As an example, in November alone, internet sales made up 36% of total retail sales, compared to just 21.6% in the same month of the previous year.

However, experts predict that the demand for warehouse space may start to decrease in 2021 due to a decline in the availability of new space. Tessa English, a director at JLL, stated that while 2020 was an exceptional year for the industry, with record-breaking e-commerce volumes, adjustments will need to be made moving forward. Despite this, there is still a significant amount of unleased warehouse space, with approximately 23 million square feet of floorspace available at the end of 2020.

To conclude, the surge in online shopping due to pandemic restrictions has led to a substantial increase in the demand for warehouse space in the UK. Businesses have leased millions of square feet of warehouse space, and online retailers have played a crucial role in driving this growth. Although the demand is expected to decrease in 2021 as new space becomes less available, there is still a notable amount of warehouse space waiting to be leased.

Useful links relevant to the article:
1. JLL Industrial and Logistics Spaces in the UK
2. Office for National Statistics – Impact of Coronavirus on UK Retail Industry