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Supply chain plots a strong trajectory

Nashville at night

Supply chain issues have made headlines over the last few years: from the toilet paper shortage of 2020, to the Ever Given cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal in 2021, followed by the Canadian trucker protests of early 2022. Despite these unfortunate events, the supply chain represents attractive opportunities for real estate investors.

Spending on the rise

Adjusted for inflation, American spending on durable goods increased 26% from 2019 to 2021, setting an annual record for sales by mid-September. Accordingly, the number of containers unloaded at the nation’s ports increased by nearly 20%.


Supply chain real estate involves multiple stops

Distribution centers, truck terminals and warehouses are all considered industrial real estate. Industrial tenants leased an additional 509 million square feet in 2021, the eleventh consecutive year of positive growth. Vacancies plummeted to record lows, and rents reached record highs, nearly 9% year-over-year.


Let's go shopping

With record consumption, store openings outpaced store closures for the first time since 2016 and net demand growth was the strongest since 2017. Overall, nearly twice as many stores opened in 2021 and half as many stores closed compared to the prior year.

2021 industrial real estate one-year return1: 43%

Is this a turning point?

Industrial real estate saw a staggering 43% year-over-year return in 2021 (measured by the NCREIF Property Index). Among retail subsectors, neighborhood and community retail led the pack with unlevered returns of 8.5% and 6.6%, respectively, the strongest performance since 2017.

Industrial landlords have pricing power. Rent accounts for just 5% to 7% of supply chain costs, and tenants have historically few options for space. Of the 50 largest industrial markets, 47 have vacancies below their long-term averages. We anticipate continued strength in the sector.

2021 neighborhood retail real estate one-year return1: 8.5%

In the retail sector we have seen a strong pivot: 46 of the 50 largest strip center markets and 36 of 50 neighborhood center markets have tighter vacancies than their long-term averages. With strong performance and increased investor interest, we think these retail subsectors are likely to see additional capital appreciation.

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1 NCREIF Property Index, 31 Dec 2021.

The views and opinions expressed are for informational and educational purposes only as of the date of production/writing and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors, such as market or other conditions, legal and regulatory developments, additional risks and uncertainties and may not come to pass. This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature.

Such information may include, among other things, projections, forecasts, estimates of market returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the information presented herein by way of example. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk; principal loss is possible.

All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such. For term definitions and index descriptions, please access the glossary on Please note, it is not possible to invest directly in an index.

A word on risk
Responsible investing incorporates Environmental Social Governance (ESG) factors that may affect exposure to issuers, sectors, industries, limiting the type and number of investment opportunities available, which could result in excluding investments that perform well. Real estate investments are subject to various risks, including fluctuations in property values, higher expenses or lower income than expected, and potential environmental problems and liability. Please consider all risks carefully prior to investing in any particular strategy. A portfolio’s concentration in the real estate sector makes it subject to greater risk and volatility than other portfolios that are more diversified and its value may be substantially affected by economic events in the real estate industry. International investing involves risks, including risks related to foreign currency, limited liquidity particularly where the underlying asset comprises real estate, less government regulation in some jurisdictions, and the possibility of substantial volatility due to adverse political, economic or other developments.

Nuveen provides investment advisory services through its investment specialists.

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