Friday, January 20, 2023

2023 Predictions

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Yes. I’m feeling the pressure - as last week proved I was quite prescient in my prognostications for 2022. My crystal ball was in fact clear. Good thing it dropped before 9:30 this year as I was snug in bed by then. But I digress. So akin to those holiday goodies you gorged and now have resolved to avoid - here is yet another prediction column for commercial real estate.
Industrial real estate. Third party logistics providers will give back space. If you’re unfamiliar with the term - 3PL or third party logistics provider - allow me to explain. Simply, a 3PL is an outsourced warehousing service. Say you’re a company that needs to get your product distributed to Walmart but don’t have the space or inclination to do so yourself. Enter the 3PL who will charge you - by the pallet - to receive, store, re-package, and ship your goods for you. For the past three years - to keep up with the demand of online shopping - 3PLs thrived and leased hundreds of thousands of square feet of logistics boxes. With the “de-inventorying” currently occurring, these providers need fewer square feet. But there’s an issue as many signed term leases which still have time to go. Therefore look for much of this excess to enter the market as sublease space.
Recession? I vote no. How’s that for contrarian thinking! Here’s how I read the tea leaves. The Fed came out with guns blazing last year with three .75% and one .5% rate bumps. As we’ve discussed, this increase affects the rate in which banks borrow. The theory is more expensive money will cool a white hot economy as businesses will re-think borrowing for expansion. If you look at Gross Domestic Product or GDP for the third quarter of 2022 - it actually increased over Q2. By the time you read this, we’ll have a glimpse as to how the fourth quarter fared. Now couple that with core inflation which has declined for several months. Finally, retailers are shedding inventory as mentioned above. In fact this is deflationary as things are on sale. Now some might counter by opining - we’ve not felt the full impact of the Fed rate increases, folks are spending that idle cash left over from the pandemic, and massive layoffs await. We’ll see. I choose to believe in the resiliency in the US economy. Plus. Did you visit a mall, restaurant, or attempt to book a flight during the holidays? Bedlam!
Return to the office. Much has been written on this subject. We’re starting the third year since all of us were forced to return to our spare bedrooms. Remember that fateful day in March of 2020? Like yesterday! Fortunately, our team had spent the previous few months figuring out how to duplicate our desktop mobily. Did we have insider scoop? No. We just wanted the flexibility to do stuff in a client’s lobby, our dining room, or the front seat of our car without losing productivity. We were lucky. When the order came - we simply unplugged, drove twenty minutes home and plugged back in. Many were not so lucky and found themselves grappling with how to remain viable. Others simply ordered a bunch online and ate alot. I heard this from a friend. 😎I predict workforces will return to the office this year. Sure, a hybrid model will be employed where - as an example - Tuesday-Thursday will be office days and Mondays and Fridays will be optional work from home.
Retail. A continuation of the experiences that brought us back to brick and mortar stores in 2022 will continue. As examples. On a recent visit to Main Place, we were serenaded by era dressed carolers, and our grandsons thrust into a cube of stuffed animals as human claw machines. I’ve never seen the place so packed! My wife and I commented - what recession? Sans these experiences, however, I’m afraid the on-line shopping is easier. What’s avoided are out-of-stocks, surly clerks, crowds, and no parking. Speaking of Main Place. Our favorite parking spaces are now consumed with a multi family building which is under construction. Providing your own customer base and foot traffic - once the units are fully occupied - is always a great idea. But how cities choose to eliminate tax basis while at the same time increasing police and fire service remains the tug-of-war.
Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104. His website is

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