The UK’s warehouses will be completely full in just 2-3 weeks. So say the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), who carried out a survey of 100 of their members to identify the impact of the Coronavirus. What it revealed was that 90% of available space has been used.
Goods continue to arrive at UK ports every day requiring handling, onward distribution and storage. But warehouses are at crisis point because many retail and manufacturing premises are closed. So the outbound flow of non-food and non-essential goods has ground to a halt. There is nowhere for it to go. And warehouses are crammed full.
Warehouse profitability hit hard
Worse still, warehouse income has dropped dramatically. It’s not just that customers are slow or unable to pay their bills because of the crisis. For many warehouses, storage charges represent less than half of their income. The bulk of their revenue comes from handling, packaging and distributing orders.
With this in mind, Peter Ward, the CEO of the UKWA has appealed directly to Chancellor Rishi Sunak. He has asked for a six month Business Rates holiday for warehouse operators. This would reduce overheads during this difficult time.
“…those operating in the food and essential supplies space are busy and visible both to government and the public. Many more serve the non-essential sectors such as clothing and non-FMCG goods… They remain operational, trying to find additional storage space, unable to furlough staff and facing a massive drop in income.”
More stock means more opportunity for warehouse crime
The BCR reported inventory shrinkage of almost £1bn due to warehouse crime in 2019! But, more importantly, warehouses have become an even more attractive prospect for thieves in 2020. With most homes occupied all day, burglars have turned their attention to commercial premises. Especially those that are empty because staff have been furloughed.
Around £1m of stock was stolen from a Sports Direct warehouse in Grimsby one night at the end of March. Two men have been arrested and released on bail whilst Police continue their investigations.