Self storage in UK is now the biggest in Europe

Here, we look at how the self-storage industry has proved to be resilient even through the economic downturn.

Whether your knowledge of self storage is learnt from TV shows like Storage Hunters and Storage Wars or you’ve used it to store your things, there’s no doubt that it’s a growing phenomenon in the UK.

The self storage in Britain didn’t exist 30 years ago but now it’s the biggest in Europe. Despite this, 55 per cent of the UK population have limited or no knowledge of self storage and how it works – though it’s an improvement from 62 per cent in 2014 according to the 2015 Self Storage Association (SSA) UK report.

With over 400 companies offering self storage in the UK across 1,022 sites, the industry has proved to be resilient even through the economic downturn.

The five largest companies in the UK, including Safestore account for 29.5 per cent of the market and the industry now generates revenues of around £355 million per year with over 250,000 customers as highlighted in the SSA UK report.

Consumers are increasingly turn to self-storage for a number of reasons. Social factors like moving home, marriage, divorce and retirement lead people to seek out more space to suit changes in their lifestyle.

However, the industry is still relatively immature in the UK unlike the US and Australia where self storage is engrained into their culture as it has been in existence since the 1960s. Since that time, it has grown to become a $22 billion industry, with more than 50,000 facilities across the country.

Demand for self storage is growing, mostly because of house movers, where people are looking to move to bigger homes and they need somewhere to store their things whilst they make that happen. Plus with often more disposable income, people are acquiring more stuff and seldom throw any of it away. This hoarder mentality means that people are willing to pay to keep hold of their things.

But is the popularity of self storage in the US and increasingly the UK, due just to materialism and the limited amount of space one has, particularly in cities like Manhattan and London? In our cramped cities and soaring house prices, having enough space to bring up the kids, entertain friends and generally to store all your possessions does come at a premium.

According to the Royal Institute of British Architects newly built homes in the UK are likely to have much less space compared to homes in Europe. And this lack of space compounded with our human sentimental nature and our need to hang on to things like books and clothes means that more and more are seeking out self storage solutions.
The amount of space we need in a home does depend on our lifestyle – whether we’re into hobbies that require large equipment, have a growing family to manage or we’re starting up a new business at home – our living space needs to be able to change too. And because of this, it looks like self storage is here to stay.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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