U.S. companies are so inundated with inventory that some are renting truck trailers to use for storage space, parking them on warehouse lots or behind storefronts to hold goods until a surge in imports is cleared from crowded distribution hubs.
Transportation equipment lessor Milestone Equipment Holdings launched a “mobile warehousing and storage” business this year to accommodate more customers seeking trailers to hold goods, many of them pulled in from China during 2018 to get ahead of impending tariffs.
The company said Home Depot Inc. and several other major retailers and manufacturers are using the service.
“It’s like a warehouse on wheels,” said Sarah Johnson, who heads up the new mobile storage business at Milestone. “We now think about our trailers as more of a real-estate alternative than just a trailer.”
The final months of the year often see warehouse space eaten up as retailers stock up for the holiday season. The strains grew this year as many companies boosted their reserves of imports to get ahead of a rise in tariffs, originally expected on Jan. 1 but later postponed to April.
Across the U.S., warehouse vacancy currently stands at 4.3 percent, according to real-estate firm CBRE Inc., the lowest the real-estate firm has recorded since it started tracking the figure in 1980.
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