Guest Post: An Overview of the UK Self Storage Market

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    Whilst self storage facilities have been a staple part of American life since the 60s, with their now being over 50,000 sites across the nation, it has been a slower process in the United Kingdom. It was actually during the 1980s that the first ever self storage operation opened in the UK, in the capital city of London.

    Fast forward to today and now over eight hundred facilities are spread over the country including England, Scotland, and Wales. In terms of storage space this amounts to nearly 30 million square foot – so whilst still very much comparatively dwarfed by the massive business this is the United States, it is still in fact growing and shows no sign of slowing up.

    In 2013 there are currently over four hundred operators running self storage depots in the UK, ranging from small businesses to national companies. Some of the bigger names in the industry include Access, Storage King, Lok “n” Store, and Big Yellow. These companies tend to account for nearly 70% of all the facilities around the country.

    You then have smaller operations and independents such as the Storage Southampton Company who tend to lease suitable property from larger commercial property owners, and then convert them into a facility – rather than owning their storage depots outright.

    Comparing the US and UK Self Storage Industries

    A recent survey conducted by the UK Self Storage Association found that the industry has annual revenues of £350 million pounds and serves a quarter of a million clients each year. The industry employs more than two thousand people, with the rental space available equating to around half a square foot per person in the UK – compared to 7.4 square foot in the USA. You can see more of these statistics in the table below which compares the US and UK self storage sectors against each other.

    Even when you take into account the vast differences in terms of geographical and population sizes, the US are still streets ahead in terms of numbers.

    Looking to the Future

    The future of the UK self storage industry does look very bright indeed, and it appears to be un-affected by the recent global economic problems. The UK Self Storage Association puts this down to a number of factors.

    • Consumers needing storage due to social issues including house moves, rising divorce statistics, and approaching retirement age.
    • Businesses down-sizing and also needing storage for archiving, surplus stock, and other equipment.

    There is also the added factor of self storage becoming more highly visible. If you drive on the outskirts of any town or city, in particular near an industrial estate, you will probably see large advertising signs for self storage operations. The advertising tends to be highly visible, with most facilities being painted in high visible colors specifically designed to attract attention.

    Most of the operators spoken to during the recent Association survey stated that they either intend to expand their current facilities, or to open new ones in 2014.

    Author Credits: This article was researched and written by the social media team at the Southampton Self Storage (UK) Company.

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