Throughout 2020 the industrial real estate sector has largely benefited from a combination of continued interest from large-scale investors, and new interest from investors who are avoiding other real estate sectors.

A boost in consumer spending online, higher inventory levels due to supply chain delays, the re-emergence of some local manufacturing and a critical shortage of storage for medical supplies, have then continued to push the sector into unprecedented evolution. As a sector they are leading the way, with their exceptional growth rates;something many didn’t think would be able to occur during this time, especially as Australia entered a recession for the first time in nearly 30 years.

The increasing demand for space, due to the above trends, has meantthat even Melbourne’s harsh lockdown measures have been unable to shake its strength. In Melbourne the rise in e-commerce activity was the key component to its industrial real estate stability.

This rise in e-commerce saw companies scrambling for storage, distribution centres and smaller city-fridge warehouses to satisfy their growing industrial property needs. Even major brands such as JB Hi-Fi and General Pants Co have recently snatched up industrial space in Melbourne, while Amazon has plans for a huge fulfilment centre in Sydney.

Across the eastern seaboard, Melbourne were seeing the lowest vacancy rate at only 2.7 per cent, Brisbane is seeing the highest at 4.6 per cent, and Sydney is sitting in between at just 3.1 per cent, according Urbis’ latest survey.

Urbis director Shane Robb said, “Industrial vacancy rates are below their office and retail counterparts, areas in which the pandemic is having a more pronounced impact”.

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“You’re going to continue to see investor demand for industrial property outpace available investments”, he added.

Many have grown increasingly confident about the long-term outlook of the sector, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. This confidence is non-comparative to the last time Australia and the world experienced such economic hardship. This is mainly because, unlike 2008, many well-positioned investors are able to continue taking advantage of record-low interest rates. As a result,new industrial developments have persisted, and developers continue to look to acquire new land for future industrial spaces.

This growth is incomparable to other sectors across Australia. Mass uncertainty earlier in the year could easily have led to a large downfall in leasing activity. However, demand ramped up, driven by the e-commerce, grocery and transport and logistics sectors, who have all experienced similar significant growth. And while some experts believe this will be a continuing trend, real estate can be unpredictable.

As we head towards 2021, the outlook for industrial real estate looks promising. Experts are highly confident that the demand for e-commerce will continue cause further growth throughout the next year. However, it is unknown if any other real estate sectors will follow in the footsteps of industrial spaces over the next few years.


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