The number of warehouse and transport hubs across Britain has nearly doubled over the last decade as online shopping has boomed and Brexit transforms supply chains, new analysis shows.
Stay-at-home spending during the pandemic is partly responsible for the boom – over a period when high streets have had a much tougher time.
Part of the West Midlands known as the “golden triangle” has long been home to a thriving logistics industry – but other areas are now also seeing a concentration of such premises.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of business sites classed as transport and storage premises was 88% higher in 2021 than ten years earlier and 21% higher than in 2019.
The rise since 2019 far outstripped the increase in business units across all industries, which only went up by 1%.
Advertisement Online shopping as a proportion of all purchases surged during the pandemic, hitting 38% at the start of last year – and though it has since slipped back to 28% that compares to 8% at the start of 2011 and 19% just before the first lockdown.
That has spurred new orders for the building of warehouses, which were worth £5.6bn in 2021 – higher than in any year since 1985, the ONS said.
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Related Topics: Brexit COVID-19 Job ads in transport, logistics and warehousing have also risen substantially since the start of the pandemic, according to the report – an analysis of previously published ONS data.
The ONS said that as well as COVID-19, the trends could also “partly reflect changes initiated by coronavirus restrictions or supply chain adjustments made after EU exit”.
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New EU entry-exit system threatens ‘worse disruption’ Transport and storage premises as classified by the ONS include passenger transport, haulage, warehousing, and postal and courier activities.
The ONS said the industry was relatively small across the UK, accounting for 5% of business premises, but it is now the largest in parts of the Midlands, the East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber.
Growth over the past decade has been led by hauliers – up 114% – and couriers – up 147%.
The figures revealed that while the number of transport and storage hubs had been growing sharply, the number of retail premises were up by 11% over the past decade and by 3% over the past two years.
But industry figures suggest the problem of vacant shop figures has been growing.
According to the British Retail Consortium, the proportion of shops lying empty has grown from 11.7% in 2015 to 14.4% at the end of last year.
Related Topics Brexit COVID-19.