Research article

The outlook for the UK's industrial and logistics market in 2019


Is Brexit a non-event when compared to structural change?

A glance at the mainstream press would suggest that companies are stockpiling product at such a rate that supply can't keep track of demand. To date, Savills have tracked just two deals over 100,000 sq ft that have any link to Brexit at all. That may change of course as preparations for 'no deal' intensify but it remains to be seen how the short-term Brexit-related requirements will marry up with the longer term aspirations of the landlord community.

More likely to have an impact on demand is the continued shift online which in November reached its highest level ever of 21.5%. Global Data are forecasting online spend to reach £75bn by 2023 which based on historical norms would suggest an extra 20m sq ft being required, but based on recent take-up levels would actually seem conservative.

Figure 29

Online retail reaches highest level ever
Source: ONS

Build cost and programme

The latest indicators from the Savills ProgrammE and Cost Sentiment Survey (S.P.E.C.S) demonstrate that build costs and programme delivery time scales have remained largely static for the second half of 2018.

Continued geo-political uncertainty does however have the potential to impact two of the key elements of build costs and programme length; the price and availability of steel and the availability of skilled labour.

Uncertainty around Brexit will keep overseas contractors away from the UK. Combined with an already strong speculative and build-to-suit programme the sector could face labour shortages into 2019.

With no end in sight to the current trade war between the USA and China, combined with further currency fluctuations, the price of imported steel could change further into 2019.