Three-quarters of warehouse owners are turning down business because they do not have enough space as Brexit stockpiling heats up, new figures suggest.
A survey by the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) shows the demand for storage is rising fast, with less than 10 weeks to go until the UK plans to leave the EU.
The trade body said there was already a shortage of space around big cities as growing numbers of companies buy additional stock to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
Businesses fear that if the government cannot agree a deal with the EU, they could suffer huge disruption and delays to supply chains from the UK suddenly cutting ties with its biggest trading partner at the end of March.
The UKWA says increased demand has driven up storage costs by as much as 25%, and its 750 members report an even sharper rise in Brexit-related queries.
Construction experts have also separately predicted a boom in new warehouse and harbour construction under a no-deal scenario.
Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, said both sectors were “growing rapidly” and could see double-digit growth in 2019, according to the Construction Index.
Detailed plans by major companies for stockpiling are now emerging at an alarming rate in the run-up to 29 March, the UK’s planned exit date.
Extra supplies being ordered in at top firms include plane parts at Airbus and Rolls-Royce, food and packaging at Associated British Foods, drugs at AstraZeneca, beer ingredients at Heineken, long-life food at Marks & Spencer and coffee at Nestlé.
The UK government’s business minister Richard Harrington admitted his concerns about warehouse space last week, telling Bloomberg “nearly every square metre” was now full.
He said: “I’m part of the government’s plans for Brexit. I’ve seen what may well happen with this cut-off date.
“It’s not a road to a free trade agreement, it’s not a road to anything. It’s an absolute disaster for the country and it’s supported by a minority of a minority of people.”