A key measure of demand for big warehouses soared 51% in the first half of 2020 as the pandemic-driven surge in online sales sent companies scrambling for space to store and deliver goods to locked-down consumers.

INDUSTRIAL REAL ESTATE DEMAND SURGES AMID PANDEMIC E-COMMERCE BOOM 

The rush toward distribution centers was most pronounced at the largest end of the market, real-estate brokerage firm Colliers International Group Inc. said in a report released Thursday, as Amazon.com Inc. and other e-commerce and logistics providers accelerated a push toward sprawling facilities to process, package and ship digital orders.

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The report covers industrial buildings of 200,000 square feet or more in major North American markets.

“There is a surge in big-box occupancy,” said Pete Quinn, the firm’s national director of industrial services. “Amazon obviously leads the pack. They’ve got multiple big boxes going up all over the country.”

The online behemoth leased an estimated 26.9 million square feet in the first half of the year, and is expected to occupy nearly 98 million square feet across the U.S. in 2020 alone, the report said.

Overall, the Colliers report said the net change in occupied big-box space—known as net absorption—rose by 51% in the first half of this year in the markets covered from the same period in 2019, to nearly 79.8 million square feet.

For sites of 750,000 square feet or more, net absorption came to 34.3 million square feet in the first six months of the year, more than double the amount recorded for all of 2019, Colliers said.

INDUSTRIAL BOOM, REMOTE-WORK EMPHASIS PUTS TULSA ON THE MAP

Amazon has been racing to meet surging online demand after a wave