New Warehouses Needed to Meet E-Commerce Demands, CBRE Study Shows

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The average age of warehouses in the United States is 34 years, making them ill-suited for the demands of e-commerce, according to an analysis by commercial real estate firm CBRE.


Facilities built before the mid-2000s tend to have low ceilings, small footprints, uneven floors and inadequate docking, CBRE concluded after analyzing data from 56 major U.S. markets.

Warehouse users seek space that helps them to better serve e-commerce needs — high ceilings to accommodate tall shelving, proximity to major population centers, more docks to serve a flow of trucks and a large footprint providing space for greater inventory and multiple packing areas.

Nearly 75% of warehouses that went under new leases in 2016 and 2017 were built within the past five years.

“E-commerce has created demand for a new type of warehouse,” said David Egan, CBRE global head of industrial and logistics research.

And warehouses aren’t getting newer. The average age of warehouses went from 26 to 34 in the past decade despite the building during that time of about 1 billion square feet of new warehouse space. Those new facilities accounted for about 11% of the 9.1 billion square feet of warehouses in the United States.

Warehouses are older in the Northeast and newer in the West and South, CBRE found. Northern New Jersey was the oldest with an average age of 57, while the Inland Empire area in California was the newest with an average age of 20 years.