Slight growth in logistics and retail space rents, despite no new mall expansion or openings being planned. These are the trends for the beginning of 2023, according to the latest report from Cushman & Wakefield Forton.
The first quarter of 2023 marked weak leasing activity in the industrial property market with low vacancy rates driven by rising prices and limited supply. The volume of completed projects reached a three-year high of 87,000 sqm, however only a few of the newly completed assets are intended for the open market. The trend of more than three-quarters of the new logistics projects being for their own use is continuing. Business activity has led to the exhaustion of vacant spaces and their share has remained permanently low – 1.5% of the total supply.
“The change of the main economic indicators in an economic environment is a development factor for the market. The increase in rental prices has caused tenants to be more cautious, while on the other hand, changes in construction costs have caused investors to be more considerate about their development plans. The combination of all factors is expected to lead to a new wave of interest in investments in own lands”, summarized Zhoro Angelov, Industrial Property and Land Development Manager at Cushman & Wakefield Forton.
As of the first quarter of 2023, the projects under construction in the Sofia region remain over 350,000 sqm. Three new projects with a total area of 47,000 sqm were completed during the period. A new increase in rental levels was recorded for the prime logistics areas, reaching €5/sqm for premises over 10,000 sqm. Rents for small to mid-size schemes edged up 8% q/q to €5.40/sqm. The uplift was driven mainly by the low availability of speculative space and the rising construction costs of new projects.
The retail space segment moves in similar dynamics as in 2022. In the first quarter, the trend of retail parks and discount chains expansion is continuing, with 9,000 sqm of new retail park sites completed throughout the country during the period. Factors such as a strong labour market and stable employment levels contribute to retail demand and sales in 2023. The existing retail parks in the country as of the beginning of 2023 have a total area of over 360,000 sqm. Another 240,000 sqm are under construction and expected to be completed in the next two years. No new mall openings or expansions are planned for 2023.
Like the other segments, rental levels here showed a slight increase, mainly reflecting the high demand and inflationary pressures. In the first quarter of the year, the asking rents for retail spaces in Sofia’s shopping centres posted an increase of 3% and reached €36/sqm for a site of 100 sqm with a good location. On the retail parks side, rental levels are also slightly increased, varying around €9-12/sqm depending on the location.
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