Market reports

The future of logistics real estate is in the city


Strategic city location vital for logistics real estate

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Logistics returns to city and consumer

The changing purchasing behaviour of Dutch consumers is having a significant impact on the logistics and retail landscape. Thanks to the rapidly increasing proportion of online purchases, fewer and fewer people are visiting brick-and-mortar shops; instead, fast, flexible and sustainable order delivery is becoming a greater priority than ever before. These developments place large demands on our logistics network – more than it can handle at the moment, in fact. The supply chain is urgently in need of recalibration, and this comes with new opportunities. We discuss this in detail in our sector report.

The Netherlands in the lead when it comes to online orders

Of all the purchases we made in 2021, 19.8% were made online, putting The Netherlands in fifth place globally. This is largely due to our excellent internet accessibility, digital skills and transportation infrastructure, all of which combine to create a foundation for continued growth in online purchasing. In the coming period, we may temporarily favour brick-and-mortar shops simply because we’re able and allowed to do so once more. However, more than 30.4% of total retail spending is expected to be online by 2030.

We are also becoming more demanding, wanting our parcels to be delivered to us at home quickly. About half of Dutch consumers expect their purchase to be delivered the very next day if they have ordered it before nine in the evening. Same-day delivery is also no longer an outlandish desire: in fact, even at eight o'clock in the evening, a little under 17% of people still assume that it is feasible. As well as delivery speed, Dutch consumers also have clear expectations when it comes to price, flexibility and sustainability.


Logistics process in disarray: the supply chain has to change

Mass online purchases and high expectations with respect to delivery make it important for retailers and logistics operators to be close to the consumer – that is, in the city. This therefore makes last-mile delivery a decisive factor. Strategically positioned distribution centres and city hubs enable the rapid and efficient delivery of customers’ goods. Not only that: the shorter distance is also necessary to meet the increasing sustainability requirements imposed by municipalities. This requires the use of electric cars, trucks or bicycles, which can cover less distance than large, polluting trucks.

The success of logistics real estate hinges on strategic location

More and more retail locations are closing their doors. This provides opportunities in terms of space for logistics operators. For example, retail owners and municipalities can use their retail footprint more flexibly to provide space for logistics processes, or even repurpose the entire space as a last-mile hub. Large-scale retail locations are also interesting prospects for city hubs. These large-scale/peripheral retail locations are easily accessible to customers and freight traffic, and are situated close to the city. However, using this kind of location as a city hub often first requires a change in the zoning plan.


Urban logistics in the right location is worth its weight in gold

Rental prices for logistics locations increase in proportion to the number of consumers you can reach in a short period of time, and this is set to increase further. This demonstrates the importance and value of a good strategic position. The same applies to the yield spread between large-scale/peripheral retail locations and logistics space, which has increased substantially, making it attractive to expand a space or transform it into a city hub.

Colleague Jim Orsel talked to Michiel Muller, founder of Picnic Technologies, about their location strategy during our Outlook event. As a result of the strong growth of e-commerce, we see a change in the shopping street. From a real estate perspective, the commercial center of gravity is shifting from the center to the urban fringe and peripheral logistics hubs. This presents challenges, but if you approach it right, it also offers great opportunities. How does Picnic look to the future?

Related insights


Urban logistics responds to e-commerce growth

From flash delivery to city hubs, there is a lot happening in the logistics sector at the moment. This creates opportunities, but which ones exactly, and how do you take advantage of them?