Chronic undersupply in the logistics market sparked a 16m sq ft 'big shed' development boom in the first half of 2015, including 7.6m sq ft of speculative development - the highest total since since 2007.
According to new research from property adviser BNP Paribas Real Estate, design-and-build deals on units over 100,000 sq ft have accounted for 8.4m sq ft of transactions so far this year.
BNP Paribas Real Estate's Nick Waddington said: "Over the past 18 months the dire lack of supply in the UK's industrial and logistics markets has seen occupiers increasingly looking at design and build as the best route of acquiring the space they need.
"The willingness of developers to make a start on many speculative developments is also helping to alleviate a chronic supply shortage."
Activity by retailers such as Lidl, Aldi and TJ Morris accounted for 60% of the total take-up figure.
Mr Waddington added: "To enable them to keep pace with the growth of online sales, more and more retailers are reconfiguring and adapting their supply chain networks, which has a knock-on effect on the demand and supply levels of distribution property."