Seeing Past the Pandemic: Industrial Demand and U.S. Seaports


originally published by Brian Harper, Director of Data Science, Avison Young, and Aaron Ahlburn, Innovation Lead, Global Logistics, Avison Young for the NAIOP Research Foundation

NAIOP Research Pic

Supply chain disruptions have never been more salient to the average consumer. Congested seaports have received particular attention as record levels of inventory have piled up at ports and ships have been stuck offshore waiting to unload. While low levels of vacancy indicate robust current demand for industrial assets, developers, investors and building owners may wonder how closely industrial demand is tied to port activity and whether the current boom is sustainable.

Key takeaways:

  • Despite a brief disruption in trade in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing trade volumes have supported long-term growth in industrial space absorption at port markets.
  • Smaller markets adjacent to recently expanded ports have experienced the strongest relative growth in demand for industrial space, but the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex has experienced the largest increase in total trade volume, supporting strong demand for local industrial real estate. 
  • The impact of port activity on real estate depends on the proportion of total industrial activity linked to the port. This effect is apparent in both larger and smaller markets.
View the Brief
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