BOSTON-Import and export volumes should be evaluated separately in regard to their impact on warehouse demand, according to a new analysis from Torto Wheaton Research. In a paper to be delivered April 18 at the American Real Estate Society’s annual meeting in Captiva Island, FL, Torto Wheaton economist Luciana Suran advises developers and investors that inbound goods generally create significantly greater need for warehouse and distribution space than outbound products, though the situation may be reversed in some manufacturing markets.

“When imports are sent to market, they usually stop at a few places along the way, where they are switched from rail to truck or from larger trucks to smaller ones,” Suran explains. “But exports usually go straight from the place of manufacture to the port of exit with no need for intermediary transfer sites. Imported consumer goods in particular can end up at multiple warehouse or repackaging centers before they reach their destination with stores or individual buyers.”

Consequently, she says, the recent surge in exports due to the declining value of the dollar will not compensate for a reduction in imports due to lowered consumer sales. But while this rule applies to most markets, it is not necessarily true for markets with a strong manufacturing base. “Detroit and Ann Arbor, for example, show a reverse correlation because of the number of products manufactured for export. What’s important, though, is that these goods won’t be stored or repackaged again till they get overseas,” she notes. “It appears as though all trade flows are not created equal, at least when it comes to warehouse demand.”

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