Record 1 Billion Square Feet of Industrial Space Leased Last Year in U.S.

Record 1 Billion Square Feet of Industrial Space Leased Last Year in U.S.

Commercial News » Atlanta Edition | By Michael Gerrity | January 28, 2022 8:30 AM ET

U.S. warehouse leasing activity in 2021 breaks all-time record

According to a new report by CBRE, the U.S. industrial & logistics market hit new highs for leasing activity in 2021, recording more than 1 billion sq. ft. of transactions.

That 1 billion sq. ft. is the largest annual gross amount recorded since CBRE started tracking the figures in 1989. Last year's surging activity drove vacancy down to 3.2%, the lowest on record. With space incredibly tight, asking rental rates shot to $9.10, up 11% year-over-year and a new high.

"We anticipated that last year would set a record, but this level of activity is extraordinary," said John Morris, executive managing director and Industrial & Logistics Leader for CBRE. "As retailers require more safety stock and e-commerce continues to expand, more space is needed. All signs point to the same demand continuing in 2022."

On a net basis, the market registered positive absorption of 432 million square feet, an 81 percent increase from 2020 totals. Last year's net absorption outpaced the previous record in 2016 by 50 million sq. ft. Net absorption measures total leasing activity - that 1 billion sq. ft. - against the amount of space newly vacated in that period.

The construction pipeline is robust, with a record 513.9 million sq. ft. of projects under construction at year end, 200 million sq. ft. higher than this time last year. However, construction completions were down 10.3 percent year-over-year as supply chain issues have hampered the construction timeline for many projects due to a scarcity of materials.

"We will need to see significant construction completions this year to accommodate all of this activity," said Morris. "Developers will likely take on more construction and materials costs to keep pace with demand, but space will remain very tight and rents will likely continue to rise at considerable rates."

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