Urbanism Next
University of OregonUniversity of Oregon

Industrial & Warehousing

How will e-commerce impact distribution warehousing? How will autonomous vehicles affect the location of industrial districts?


What is driving change?

Changes in Goods & Meal Delivery

The movement of goods has been changing considerably as household demand for freight has grown. It is estimated that U.S. per capita rate of deliveries remained relatively constant from 1963 to 2009. With the growth of e-commerce, however, it increased considerably between 2009 and 2017 and could double by 2023. Consumers can also easily arrange to have groceries and prepared meals delivered directly to their homes via mobile apps. The ease of online ordering may impact residential housing preferences moving forward.

Change in Demand for Warehousing Space

The shifts in demand for goods that are delivered rather than picked up at stores may lead to a shift in the amount and orientation of land used for certain purposes, particularly warehousing. Those shifts could also change the demand for industrial land overall.

Reduction of Brick-and-Mortar Stores

The expansion of e-commerce has coincided with closures in brick-and mortar stores. Store closures create vacancies and redevelopment opportunities, and cities may need to consider how they zone for retail space.

Future Changes

Cardboard boxes in front of a shelf in a warehouse

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

What Could Happen?

  • New warehouses and distribution centers may move to population centers to facilitate quick last mile delivery. This shift would be in addition to maintaining large fulfillment centers on the outskirts of urban areas. To encourage new patterns of industrial land use, land development regulations around siting, parking, and transportation access to warehouse and distribution centers may change to be oriented for automated delivery. In some cases, there may be a second life for smaller industrial properties that no longer serve modern manufacturing or warehousing needs.
  • Retail locations may become partial distribution centers, blurring the line between retail and warehousing uses. With increasing demand for goods delivery, some retail outlets may be reoriented towards fulfillment, facilitating easy click-and-collect or delivery options for consumers. The amount of customer floor space would decrease, enabling a greater concentration of goods to be warehoused. This could significantly impact warehousing patterns, especially in dense urban areas.


Quick facts

Si aliae qui ommolenet que prati aut eossitae optatus daepell uptatur andante comni idebit quid moluptio te am quat facculparum recaecte.

What to do

Si aliae qui ommolenet que prati aut eossitae optatus daepell uptatur andante comni idebit quid moluptio te am quat facculparum recaecte.

Not sure where to start? Below are four What to Do pages that we think are especially relevant to Industrial & Warehousing:

More about what to do »


Policies, pilots, and approaches

Communication tools

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