The logistics segment of real estate has become the star of the industry even before the coronavirus lockdown. But during the restrictions period, logistics became even more important for online shopping, as Sinziana Pardhan, Managing Director Romania at P3 Logistic Parks, told us at Business Review’s Realty Forum 2020, an event organized under a new concept, Garden Zoom-Out.
”We really felt in the spotlight, especially at the beginning of the lockdown when the activity within our park increased a lot. At Bucharest A1 Park we have over 60 percent of the space occupied by food and e-commerce retailers. The level of activity was intense, similar to what we see during Black Friday,” said Sinziana Pardhan.
Warehouse operators also felt a great responsibility since everybody realized that logistics are a part of Romania’s critical infrastructure, without which the economy cannot function to the standards we are used to.
”At P3, we also approached work-from-home as much as possible, we made a plan with the facility management company to make sure that there are no problems in the park’s activity. Especially since we have a team of technicians who provide maintenance for 380,000 square meters and we must ensure their health security and social distance,” said Pardhan.
At the beginning of the lockdown, when the sales went through the roof, some of the warehouse customers needed additional staff. ”Also, they started working in teams, so if a member of the team would be infected, the entire team should be replaced. We tried to help and talked to those that were affected by the crisis and could provide temporary staff to those in need,” said Sinziana Pardhan, also expressing her admiration for all retail chains, where people worked until exhaustion but managed to keep all the shelves full with goods even if in the evening before the shelves were empty.
”I am not very optimistic for the second part of the year, there are things that we have to consider. If we look at the macro-indicators, we can see that things are not going well. And total consumption will no longer be at the level forecasted at the beginning of the year. But being here, at this event, is remarkable. We did not know when we will see the first signs of normality, and this is one of those moments,” said Sinziana Pardhan.
P3 had a solid pipeline of projects before the lockdown, a pipeline that has been mostly blocked by the lockdown. ”We have signed a few contracts, but the level of work is not the same as it was 4 months ago. We also thought that the demand for short-term spaces would be higher, but it isn’t,” said Pardhan.
“Another trend we see now is the difficulty of customers to predict their flows, so the discussions are on more flexible terms so they can see how they will position themselves in the future.”
Changing the perspective from short term to medium and long term, the P3 Managing Director becomes more optimistic. “The logistics sector is a star now, but this is a trend that was emerging before the pandemic. The main engine is e-commerce, which sees accelerated growth. And it will continue on the same path since the internet is now used by a lot more people than before, many buying online for the first time. Also, there is a transition from cash to card payments that helps e-commerce,” said Sinziana Pardhan.
And since Romania is at the bottom of the EU top on online shopping, it is obvious that there is a lot of room for e-commerce to grow in.