- Operators’ revenues increased 6.5% to £990 million in 2022 as the sector’s growth continued despite the pressures on household budgets
- Additional 2 million sq ft of storage space added taking overall total to 55.5 million sq ft
- Diverse sources of customer demand include life events such as a death in the family, relationships ending or moving abroad as well as long-term business users
London, 17 May 2023 – Annual turnover in the UK self storage industry is set to exceed £1 billion for the first time in 2023 as the cost-of-living crisis fails to dampen customers’ appetite for the easy-access rented space, according to Cushman & Wakefield & the Self Storage Association UK (SSA UK).
Self storage operators – which include well-known brands such as Big Yellow and Safestore – reported a combined £990m of revenue and increased profitability in 2022 as the sector’s growth continued unabated despite the pressures on household budgets.
The latest self-storage industry annual report shows revenues were up by 6.5% year-on-year as customers continue to find value in self-storage as a way to create extra room at home or when moving, or as a cost-effective way of holding stock for businesses. This was up on the comparative increase the previous year.
The UK has the most self storage per person of any country in Europe, with an estimated 2,231 self storage ‘stores’ in the UK. An additional 2 million square feet (sq ft) of new storage space was added in 2022 taking the overall space to 55.5 million sq ft. Average rental rates rose by a below-inflation 4% in 2022 to £27.19 per square foot per year.
The resilient performance of the industry has caught the eye of major investors including Nuveen, Legal & General and Heitman who were among those buying portfolios of UK self storage assets during the last 12 months.
Alongside authoritative insight into the sector and its future prospects, the report includes data from surveys of self storage operators and customers.
Customer survey highlights
- Self storage customers are more likely to be aged between 45 and 70, with 55 to 64-year-olds the most common age group
- Customers under 45 are more likely to be short term, 59% having their unit for less than 12 months compared with 39% of customers over 45
- Life changing events act as a trigger for many self storage customers. Of these, a death in the family (30%) is the most common, followed by a relationship ending (13%) and moving abroad (10%)
- 20% of customers have held their unit for more than five years
- 82% were domestic customers and 18% were business customers
- Among business customers, the largest group is retail at 19% followed by professional services which has been steadily increasing over the past three years to its current 16%.
- 20% of all business users run their entire business from their unit, with self storage acting as a local business incubator
Self storage has traditionally been associated with large footprint roadside stores. However, more recently some brands have diversified into smaller format stores in high density areas. This trend is expected to continue, reflecting shifts in the residential market.
Philip Macauley, Head of Self Storage at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The self storage industry is constantly adapting to the way we live, and an increasing proportion of people, whether by choice or necessity, are staying in rented accommodation for longer. On-site self storage can be a valuable amenity for residents in large developments, especially if they don’t have cars. The beauty from the perspective of Build-To-Rent developers, operators and investors is that self storage also brings into active use dormant basement space below purpose built residential blocks which is unsuitable for accommodation.”
Rennie Schafer, CEO, Self Storage Association UK, said: “The self storage industry has maintained the gains it made during the pandemic and benefits from higher occupancy and lower customer churn rates than it did previously. The diversity of reasons people have for using self storage is one of the industry’s greatest strengths and life events like births, couples moving in together, house moves, separations and deaths will all keep occurring regardless of the economic backdrop. That bodes well for the continued success of the industry.”