Self Storage – A History And Look At Why It Became So Prominent In The UK

Whether you live in a city or a rural community, the chances are that not only do you know what self storage is, but that you are also going to be able to find a facility within a short driving distance of your home or business. This, when compared to 10 years ago, is a huge change in the availability and use of self storage facilities country wide.

Although relatively recent in terms of the UK, self storage has been around in America since at least the mid 1960’s and over the pond the use of storage facilities is huge, with not only citizens relying on the extra space that it creates, but many using it on an ongoing basis rather than just the short to medium rental terms that many people consider it to really be for. According the SSA (Self Storage Association), there are over 53,000 facilities in America, and although this stands tall above the 800 or so in the UK, it just goes to show how popular this kind of storage solution is.

When we look at 800 or so facilities in the UK, this may well seem a small amount, but compared to around ten years ago the increase is substantial, with more and more home and business owners turning to their local storage facility to clear more room in their homes or office to allow them not only the space to live again, but to offer them a much less cluttered life. Many people use the facilities as an extension of their own home or business premises, with ongoing rental contracts (as we mention), far more common now than they ever were before. People often assume you will only rent a unit for a few months whilst you sort things out at home or in between moves, but this is changing with the long term rental far more common now.

In the UK, we have a mixture of sizes of storage facilities from small, independently and often family run self storage facilities, through to the large chains and brands that seem to dominate every city, up and down the country. The strong growth in the industry shows that where the demand rises, so must the supply, as opening a self-storage facility is not cheap and therefore you need to be certain that you will have the market and the customer demand to really guarantee a successful business. This is why some of the facilities will start from scratch, and some will have diversified from other business operations to maybe use their land more profitably.

There are two main growth factors behind the industry and these are consumers and businesses, as both sets of user types have really taken advantage of self storage and what it can offer them.

From a consumer’s or a home owner’s point of view, hiring or renting a storage unit means that they do not have to worry about finding the money to move to a new property or build an extension on their home, because they can simply use self storage as an extra room or space that they can occupy as and when they wish. As these units have become more accessible and frequentable, it means that the restrictions have been lifted, so there is little difference of going into your garage than going to your storage unit when it comes to getting your hands on your belongings, apart from the short drive or travelling distance of course.

From a business point of view, the cost of expanding or moving, in terms of finance and logistics can sometimes seem just too great, but the affordability of a storage facility can seem much more appealing, and again, like the home owner, accessibility means that it really can offer a similar access level than something “onsite”. Businesses will often use storage for archive storage, a place to keep their stock and office equipment or some will actually use it as a second base, as long as the storage company agrees that this is ok. And, many of the rural facilities also offer room for caravan and vehicle storage, which allows a business more space than they could realistically have at their current operational workplace.

Industries and niches grow, like products and services, due to increased awareness and demand, and although you can pump lots of money into advertising and getting new customers, the increase in popularity has also been down to word of mouth, as solutions that save people money and space will get talked about, and it only takes a few friends or colleagues to get chatting for the self storage message to start spreading quite rapidly. And, with many of these same customers holding onto their unit for a long time, there is more chance of the word spreading, which is why word of mouth really can be a business’s best friend.