One of the biggest surprises in the economic climate caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been just how busy the industrial and commercial property market has remained.
We, like every other business, carefully assessed our options back in March and decided that, while all our staff would work from home where possible, the directors would continue to meet the demand of our clients and respond to inquiries for business space.
So, with social distancing very much in mind, we have been able to conduct viewings in safety, resulting in John Truslove remaining as busy as ever.
This has been reflected in results that show we completed 36 per cent more deals in August 2019-August 2020 than the previous year, and this was recognised when John Truslove was announced as “Most Active Agent in Worcestershire” by Radius Data Exchange survey produced in conjunction with EG, the commercial property market magazine.
I was also named Worcestershire Dealmaker of the Year and Warwickshire Dealmaker of the Year for 2020, which was actually a double win for the whole John Truslove team.
The reason we have remained so busy, is that the industrial sector has remained buoyant throughout with demand outstripping supply, especially for freeholds.
The office market has bounced back in the last quarter. We are seeing inquiries from companies relocating from Birmingham, as north east Worcestershire is ideally located with good communication links and some good, modern stock available.
Retail continues to be a difficult market, but surprisingly there is demand for smaller more cost- effective premises.
In 2021, retail will continue to be difficult especially in town centres. Covid has been a nail in the coffin for High Street retail, and we need to support the independent retailers and get high street leisure uses back open.
For the industrial market, it is crucial that the exhibitions and entertainment sectors get back to some sort of normality with so many companies in Worcestershire working in these arenas.
But other business will continue to grow on the back of changing retail and lifestyle habits i.e. demand for warehousing will continue to grow to support the ever increasing demand from online retail.
The future of the office is uncertain. Will a vaccine enable employees to return to the office or will social distancing requirements become the norm? If so, we can see a lot of movement in the market as companies find more suitable premises potentially away from the major conurbations.
Many businesses have adapted very quickly to having staff working from home, so there may be some rationalisation of space requirements, and the commute to work, especially on public transport, is another factor in the equation as businesses seek to help protect their employees until a vaccine is rolled out in sufficient numbers to protect the vast majority of the population. And in the meantime, there are opportunities for landlords to assess the space they are offering, and we expect the market to continue to be busy in 2021.