Savills have reported on the logistics sector in Europe and here is our take on the outlook.
Increases in online spending has meant an increased demand for warehouse space but the big question for stakeholders in the logistics market will be what the longer-term, stable outlook will be for consumer spending as a whole, and online spending within this.
- COVID-19 impact is forecasted to speed up European online retail sales by one year. Online retail sales have accounted for an unprecedented level of total retail sales, spiking to as high as 33% in the UK during lockdown period. The Centre for Retail Research’s (CRR) July 2020 forecast Western Europe’s six largest economies’ online retail sales as a percentage of total sales will rise from 12% in 2019 to 15.3% during 2021.
- Mintel estimate that the UK’s online grocery sales will grow by 33% year on year in 2020, as Amazon Fresh have provided free grocery delivery service to Londoners for Prime members.
- Average European vacancy rates increased from 5.1% to 5.8% during the first half of 2020, although this remains low by historical standards, and well below the 12% equilibrium for stable rental growth observed within the UK.
- A shortage of available space will be the prolonged challenge for many occupiers throughout the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 and we expect to see increases in the proportion of lease regears.
- Some landlords have used COVID-19 as an opportunity to regear leases and increase the WAULT on their portfolios, offering additional months’ rent free in exchange for longer commitments.
- European prime logistics rents remained stable during 2020, with positive growth in London (+8%).
Investment and Finance
- Debt pricing has remained fairly stable with pre-COVID levels, with some of the most competitive terms coming from international banks and institutional investors.
- Investor sentiment remains particularly strong for long let assets to strong supermarket or online retail covenants. More caution remains for retailers with lower online presence.
- The fundamentals of the logistics sector position it as one of the most resilient through this economic downturn, as investors look to review their asset allocations in favour of the sector.
- The logistics sector accounted for 11% of the overall investment turnover during 2020, still in line with the five year average. This is because the availability of stock is still unable to keep pace with investors’ insatiable demand, constraining investment volumes in the sector.