A Guest Installment by David Greenwood, CEO, Boxload
Self-storage arrived in the United Kingdom during the 1990s, with the first facilities opening in London. Although it took almost 10 years before the concept became widely recognized by consumers, the industry has seen significant growth since 2000 in large part to the shrinking size of Britains rabbit-hutch homes.
The Self Storage Association of the United Kingdom (SSA-UK) estimates there are now more than 830 self-storage facilities in the U.K., with more than 250,000 people using them. Our consumer society means many people are gradually running out of spacemore and more stuff comes in and it's not going out. Although items are becoming increasingly disposable, people are still reluctant to throw away things theyve bought.
The average length of stay for a self-storage customer in 2012 was more than 41 weeks, an increase of four weeks compared to 2011, according to the SSA-UK. An increased proportion of business users during the recession is one reason average storage time has increased since business users typically store for much longer than private individuals. However, even before the recession, private users were also staying longer, mainly because of cramped modern housing and more people living alone in smaller homes without garages or attics.
Compared to the United States, the U.K. pales in significance for self-storage. In the U.S., there is now more than 7 square feet of self-storage space per person. In the U.K. there is only 0.5 square foot per person. However, the U.K. still leads in Europe, with more facilities than all of its European Union cousins combined.
And things dont look likely to slow. With the U.K.s population expected to keep increasing and space for new construction reducing, 2013 looks like it will be a good year for self-storage operators in the U.K.
David Greenwood is CEO of Boxload, a company providing "mail storage" solutions for personal and business users in the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.boxload.co.uk .
Editor's Note: For additional insight into the state of the U.K. self-storage market, please refer to the infographic below, courtesy of Boxload.