CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 14, 2018
Forward Thinking

Average size of U.S. warehouses has doubled since 2002, CBRE report finds

The broom in e-commerce has expanded the girth and height of warehouse over the past decade.

Perhaps to no one's surprise, the typical U.S. warehouse has doubled in size since 2002 as booming e-commerce has spawned demand for ever-larger facilities to handle surging volumes, according to a report issued by real estate and logistics services firm CBRE Inc.

The Los Angeles-based firm analyzed the average size of U.S. warehouses built during the 2002-07 development upswing and compared those figures to the 2012-17 period, when e-commerce took hold in the mainstream. The analysis found that the average facility size increased by 143 percent, to 184,693 square feet, and that the average warehouse's clear height rose by 3.7 feet, to 32.3 feet.

The largest expansions came in metropolitan areas with the big populations coveted by online sellers and the abundant land required by developers, according to CBRE. Atlanta led the pack with a 284-percent gain in the average warehouse size from the earlier cycle to the current one. That was followed by Cincinnati with a 237-percent gain, and California's "Inland Empire," located east of Los Angeles, with a 222-percent increase.

David Egan, CBRE's global head of industrial and logistics research, said in a statement that e-commerce growth over the past five years or so has created the need for massive warehouses with high ceilings to store extensive and fast-moving inventories. Because e-commerce demand is only expected to increase, this means that markets without enough modern logistics facilities will see continued construction as they play catch-up, Egan said.

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