The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the economy with an estimated GDP drop of 4.2% in 2020, however, the Dutch economy is quite resilient with a growth forecast of 2.8% in 2021. The unemployment rate increased in 2020 to 4.1% and is expected to increase further to 6.1% in 2021, as the support from the government will eventually stop. In 2021 consumers will have less purchasing power compared to previous year and are more likely to save money, rather than spend it. Business investments will slightly recover as well as export figures.
The office market accounted for approximately 19% of the total investment volume of 2020. This brings the investment volume to EUR 3.3 billion, a decrease of 46% compared to the same period previous year. The COVID-19 outbreak is putting a temporary halt to the increasing take-up volumes of previous years, with a decline in the office take-up volume of 34% in 2020, compared 2019. A total of 952,000 square meters of office space has been taken up during 2020. The downward trend in the number of vacant offices seems to have stopped due to the outbreak of COVID-19, with a slight increase in the nationwide vacancy rate to 8.2% in 2020. Despite the slight increase the vacancy rate in many core cities was already at or below the frictional vacancy rate of 5 to 6%, this is a tight market with little room to meet the needs and demand from office-based organizations.
The retail market represented 12% in the total investment volume of 2020, which is an increase of 2% compared to previous year. Despite the increase of the share, the retail investment volume amounted EUR 2.0 billion, which is 17% below 2019. Most of the investment volume has been realized before the virus outbreak, although, December witnessed a strong performance as well due to the transfer tax that will increase in 2021. Compared to the first lockdown landlords are more willing to understand the current situation the retailers are in, as they were forced to close and depend on the government support and their online sales. It is expected that bankruptcies will increase in 2021 after the lockdown and the support from the government ends. While supermarkets are witnessing record-high turnover rates, as they are the only one that can be open during the lockdown.
Over 2020, the investment volume allocated to industrial and logistics amounted to approximately EUR 2.9 billion. This is a decline of 38% as opposed to 2019, which mainly stems from limited supply of investment opportunities, as investors still show an exceptional appetite for logistical properties as e-commerce activity increased at the expense of regular food and non-food retail. Occupier demand for logistics property in The Netherlands has been strong for some years now. In 2020, logistics take-up amounted to 2.3 million square meters. Compared to 2019, take-up decreased by 11%, but is still 30% higher compared to the ten-year average annual take-up. Furthermore, take-up in 2020 declined due to tightened environmental legislation regarding nitrogen emissions which restricted most new construction.
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