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Amazon Says It’s Slowing Down Its Rampant Warehouse Growth

An Amazon fulfillment center.

Amazon will start slowing its industrial real estate growth, after leasing and buying hundreds of millions of square feet of logistics space in the last few years.

Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said on an earnings call Thursday the company will keep spending at the same rate on internet infrastructure and transportation, but it would begin to taper off its physical warehouse investments. 

"We see that moderating to match the growth of the underlying business," Olsavsky said on the call

The slowdown will apply to buying, leasing and developing warehouses. Amazon's warehouse network is now double what it was in 2020; it spent $25.4B on leased property in 2021, and $5.8B on build-to-suit development, CoStar reports.

Around 30% of Amazon’s capital spending has been on building warehouses, Olsavsky said, while 40% has been assigned to building internet networks and systems. A total of 25% has been spent on transportation while 5% of spending has gone to office space and retail construction.

In all, Amazon’s logistics network features 347.6M SF of active space in the U.S., and some 125.6M in the pipeline, CoStar reported, citing logistics consultant MWPVL International. Building will continue at the same pace for the moment, although it has been hampered by labor and supply chain issues.

Amazon has been shifting its strategy over the last year and a half to buying and developing its own facilities, as Bisnow previously reported. The e-commerce giant has spent billions on acquiring its own facilities in recent years, and it has moved heavily away from leasing new warehouses.

Before last year, as Amazon rapidly built out its logistics network largely on the backs of leased space, it was described as the "Golden Cow" for the industrial industry, fueling the rapid rise of warehouses as a desired institutional investment asset class.