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Supertankers full of online goods filling warehouses, driving up demand

The country’s ports and container wharves are working overtime to cater for the near-record number of large vessels arriving by sea, laden with goods that are bound for ever-bursting warehouses and distribution centres.

As a direct response to the global pandemic that forced consumers to shop online while in lockdown, supertankers arrivals are rising rapidly – fuelling demand for industrial property.

The acceleration of imports comes as e-commerce is supercharging industrial & logistics enquiry levels with an additional 350,000 square metres of new space annual to keep pace with online sales activity.

The volume of container ship arrivals is growing fast at Port Botany, NSW

The volume of container ship arrivals is growing fast at Port Botany, NSWCredit:Louise Kennerley

In its 2021 Australia Real Estate Market Outlook Report, CBRE’s Cameron Grier said that previously, occupiers were warehousing just enough stock to meet market supply at the time, which required a smaller footprint – however, since the onset of COVID-19, suppliers have moved to secure larger footprints to accommodate for a new wave of supply chain modelling.

“We are already seeing the average occupier warehouse footprint increasing to account for a wide-ranging rethink of inventory strategy, after many groups were caught with not enough stock during the pandemic,” Mr Grier, regional director of CBRE Pacific’s I&L – investor leasing business, said.

Data for national ports for January alone shows total container movements grew by 14.2 per cent after a 4.5 per cent growth rate in the first half of the 2021 financial year.

This strong result is in line with long-run growth trends of up to 7.5 per cent annually and it represents the fourth consecutive month of growth since COVID-19 negatively impacted the Australian freight task.

Analysts at investment house Jarden said volumes growth rates are expected to increase further with underlying import growth being assisted by a stronger Australian dollar.

On a state basis, NSW Ports total container volumes grew by 14.9 per cent, an acceleration from a rise of 11.1 per cent in December. In Victoria volumes grew by 17.9 per cent in January.

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