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35th Annual Survey of Corporate Executives Commentary: Staying Afloat During the Crisis but Dark Times Ahead?

Although the Corporate Survey reveals that most companies did not change their overall corporate real estate strategy during the past year, they now appear to be taking a more prudent approach when it comes to plans for new/expanded facilities.

Q1 2021
The past 12 months have evidently turned the world upside down. However, the results of the 35th annual Corporate Survey show that the numerous challenges brought by the pandemic did not equally affect all industries and their investment projects. In fact, there still was a good level of activity during these times, as more than three quarters of respondents either did not change their real estate strategy due to the pandemic or did not change their number of facilities in the last year.

Paired with positive pandemic-related news, these figures should paint a more optimistic picture of the future; but a different landscape is seen from the perspective of American corporate executives. According to the 2020 survey results, only 27 percent of respondents are looking to open an additional facility within the next two years. This is a big drop from 2019, where 45 percent of corporations were planning to open a new facility within the next five years. The projection from the 2020 survey focuses on the next two years because concrete expansion plans in this period are a big tell for corporations about their view of potential growth opportunities. In the short term, the need for many corporations to re-adjust from the effects of the past 12 months may take precedence to new facility and expansion plans.

Although the importance granted to site selection factors seems to have remained overall similar to the pre-pandemic results, the survey’s projections show that it is the willingness of corporations to planning expansion projects that diminished. They now seem to be taking a more prudent approach to plan due to the overall economic uncertainty.

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