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Britons are storing more and more stuff

The British have now stored enough stuff to fill Buckingham Palace more than sixty times over. Lack of suitable and affordable housing, the continuing urge to buy and the difficulty of parting with unused belongings, have meant that the self storage business is likely to turn over £1 billion pounds a year this year….

Renting a self-storage unit turns out to be cheaper in the long run than renting or buying a larger house. That is why in the UK, self-storage sites are springing up like mushrooms alongside new housing projects. At least 280 additional sites are planned through 2026, an increase of more than 10%.

All this is according to a study by the brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield and the Self Storage Association UK. “An increasing proportion of people, by choice or necessity, are staying longer in rental housing,” says Philip Macauley of Cushman & Wakefield. “Self storage can be a valuable addition for many people, especially if they don’t have a car.” In addition, the industry is benefiting from the boom in online running. When customers don’t have room for it anyway, they by no means always return what they have bought but bring it to the self-storage unit.

A survey of more than 1,800 customers in the United Kingdom revealed the most common reason for using self-storage:

  • lack of space at home;
  • a move;
  • major life events such as a death, obtaining an inheritance or divorce;
  • a renovation or remodeling project.


The industry describes its product as “sticky” because most new customers think they will only use the unit for a few months. But once one has filled the space, it takes mental effort to empty it quickly. “We find it hard to part with our stuff,” says Chief Executive of Space Station, which first opened a self-storage location in 1997, now operates 14 locations and has 13 more in the pipeline. “That sentiment is good for the industry.” He adds, “No one buys stuff to keep for life. We buy stuff and when we get tired of it, we buy something new again. Storage options are good because it encourages people to keep things and reuse them, rather than just throwing them away and replacing them.”

So self-storage is becoming increasingly profitable. Big Yellow, with 108 stores and the UK’s largest operator by floor space, posted a 30% increase in profits in 2022. Revenues of the second-largest operator, Safestore, increased 14% in the same year. A few more facts from Cushman & Wakefield’s research:

  • A 500-unit facility can be operated by as few as four staff members.
  • More people say that because of the cost-of-living crisis, they have used storage more often rather than less.
  • The largest user group is between 55 and 64 years old.
  • The most common income bracket is between £21,000 and £31,000 (24,000 euros – 35,000 euros) per year.
  • The higher the income, the lower the demand for self-storage.
  • Half of the clients are single, widowed, living apart or divorced.
  • 65% of household customers use their unit for about two years. Another 16% have had their unit for more than five years.

Source: The Guardian

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