‘Where’ is the Future of Logistics?

2020 was a memorable year for many reasons, specifically in the world of logistics; the sector broke all previous records on build out and occupation rates.  However, we now have a historically low amount of accessible space available in the market (4.24%) for what the Government described at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic to be ‘a key sector of the UK economy.’  After the back wash of Brexit and the first wave of the pandemic had passed, some commentators thought that the market would settle or return to old levels of market supply and demand yet recently published research by Savills recorded the highest ever level of market demand at the end of last year and this trend appears to be continuing into 2021.

As a practitioner in this sector for over 20 years, seeing this trend suggests that the market demand remains strong and that requirements are shifting from short-term ‘firefighting’ strategies to longer-term approaches.  There is now a chronic shortfall of accommodation for something many use every day of our lives.  If it were related to housing, there would be pages of political comment about it and changes in the forthcoming planning reform.  But with logistics remaining the ‘Cinderella’ of the planning world and little being said about it outside the sector, no mention was given to it in the Planning White Paper and yesterday’s news quickly becomes fish and chip wrapping for tonight’s supper.

There has been a seismic shift in our economy brought about by Brexit and the pandemic, the exponential growth of online retailing (for almost every conceivable product in our homes and offices) and our changing attitudes to the way we shop online requires faster and faster customer deliveries.  So, if we all still want those brown boxes to keep arriving and the shelves in stores to be full whenever we visit them is it not time that far greater attention was given by the Government, at all levels, to ensure there is an adequate supply of this essential piece of infrastructure?