This is one of the effects of the health crisis: last year, the surge in internet commerce led to a rush on warehouses in France, and a surge in rents.
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The observation is unanimous among firms and rental agencies specializing in business real estate. The number of square meters of warehouses, rented or sold, experienced in 2021 its best year since 2017. This is easily explained: to move to online commerce and be able to deliver as quickly as possible, a company must reorganize its chain of supply, build up more stocks and use more small warehouses near cities, or directly in city centers, to ensure what is called the last mile of delivery.
In this appetite for warehouses, there are all types of businesses, but also the major retailers. A land group like Argan sees the requests pouring in. He works for Auchan, Casino, Carrefour, and also for logisticians like Geodis. Argan saw its rental income increase by 10% last year. In particular, it delivered a 185,000 square meter four-storey warehouse to Amazon near Metz in Moselle.
The various confinements have pushed consumption on the internet to the detriment of small businesses in the city center and this has been the business of the wholesalers of warehouse rentals. And then another phenomenon, some investors have turned away from traditional assets such as offices and hotels that have suffered from the crisis and have turned to logistics buildings (warehouses).
The trend is there. But building new warehouses is very greedy in land ownership and investors will come up against the law against the artificialization of soils; the climate and resilience law voted in August 2021. Not to mention the growing opposition from local residents who do not want to see gigantic warehouses grow in their municipalities. The consequence is a spike in rents.
Soil scarcity and increasingly high costs: the phenomenon is European, not just French.