The Self Storage Association of the UK is about to release the results of its latest annual survey. What's in store for the industry?
A secret glimpse at the survey has told us that the self storage industry in the UK remains in rude health. The industry added around 5% of floorspace through the course of 2015, and increase rental rates by 6%. Both of these numbers imply that there continues to be a lack of supply, with customers desperate for the extra space and flexibility self storage offers. Availability of prime sites suitable for self storage remains the main obstacle to further growth, especially in London, and it's the big boys building new sites mainly, with independents finding ways of adding space to existing sites.
Still, supply is up from 0.54 square feet per head of population in the UK, to 0.59. In London this number is over a square foot per head, but we'll need to wait for the full survey launch to get an exact number. Turnover in the industry is up to £440m, spread across some 490 facilities. Meanwhile, the number of people who claim to have never heard of self storage is down to 10% (from 15% in 2015), although 48% of people aren't familiar enough with the service to know what it actually entails. In fact, only 11% of people surveyed said they either had used, or had considered using, self storage in the past year.
This all implies significant future growth in the industry is yet to come, with growing product awareness and demand from customers for what is a very flexible storage option. Will the industry be able to respond? Members surveyed on the whole expect 2016 to be a decent year, but there was a degree of caution expressed, in line with the general softening of macro-economic sentiment across the UK.
The annual survey is now in its tenth year, and covers north of 40% of operators and 60% of total floor space provided in the UK. The SSA UK
estimates that there are over 1,000 self storage sites across the United Kingdom.
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