Observatory of Strategic Developments Impacting Urban Logistics

Basic Information



Latest update



Tool type

Guidance document / Manual Indicator set Method / Approach

Application area

  • Data gathering
  • Appraisal and assessment
  • Dissemination and communication

Target Audience

  • Small cities
  • Medium-sized cities
  • Large cities
  • Metropolitan regions
  • Other


Urban freight planning and operations need to fully recognise the economic, demographic, technological, societal and legal challenges that will shape the mobility of goods in urban areas in the future.

To help cities implement their urban freight initiatives, a better understanding of new trends and challenges impacting the movement of goods in cities is necessary.

This Observatory provides data and analysis on some of the most important, or less well known, trends that will shape the urban mobility of goods in the future, including:

  • Logistics land uses, logistics real estate, and logistics sprawl, which is the spatial deconcentration of logistics facilities and distribution centres in metropolitan areas. Warehouses tend to relocate to outer suburban areas with good access to highway interchanges, large available land space, affordable rents, and access to employees.
  • E-commerce, e-grocery, and instant deliveries (on-demand delivery service within two hours). E-commerce adds hundreds of thousands of deliveries in urban areas every day. The development of instant deliveries is based on the use of mobile apps which connect couriers – individuals, self-contractors or employees – to shippers and consumers.
  • Circular economy. To deal with current environmental issues associated with ‘linear economy’, a new model emerges - the ‘circular economy’ - which promotes responsible consumption, aims to extend the life of products and to recover and regenerate materials at the end of product life. The circular economy has impacts on urban freight with new types of supply chains required by reverse and return logistics.
  • Service trips are trips in commercial traffic induced by service oriented activities. The analysis of service traffic concerning used vehicles, commercial sectors and spatial types shows that mainly light duty vehicles and passenger cars are used for service traffic. Service traffic relates to construction, human health and social work, professional, scientific and technical activities, the wholesale and retail trade sectors, and manufacturing

Thematic areas

Urban logistics


IFSTTAR - Laetitia Dablanc

Lead of the tool development: CITYLAB

laetitia.dablanc [at] ifsttar.fr

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