After renting a self storage unit from, make your storage unit functional. (andrea crisante/

By M. Heighway, Guest Blogger

The UK self storage industry is relatively new compared to the United States.  Self storage facilities started appearing stateside in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that they became popular in England and the United Kingdom.  A recent annual survey conducted by the UK Self Storage Association offers some valuable insight into how self storage works across the pond, especially when compared to the sheer size of the US industry – for example there are only 830 storage centers in the UK compared to over 50,000 in the United States.

After renting a self storage unit from, make your storage unit functional. (andrea crisante/
The self storage industry is set to expand in the coming year. (andrea crisante/

Socially, the emergence of self storage as an industry in the UK can be attributed to the increase in house moves that occurred in the 1990s.  Before that decade, house moves were not as common ast they are today.  The recent recession also led to many home-owners looking to down-size their property due to escalating mortgage costs.  This created the necessity for more storage operators as people down-sizing needed a place to cheaply and safely store their belongings.  There were also other influencing factors such as increased divorce rates and people living for longer (and therefore moving to smaller houses) that also added to the need for storage.

The UK Storage Industry is the Largest in Europe

Despite the relatively low number of storage facilities in the UK, it still dwarves the penetration seen in other European countries.  Below is a list of European countries with the UK included, with estimates from the UK Self Storage Association on how many facilities each region has.

  • Austria – 20
  • Belgium – 29
  • Denmark – 45
  • Finland – 38
  • France – 245
  • Germany – 86
  • Ireland – 25
  • Italy – 30
  • Netherlands – 140
  • Norway – 33
  • Spain – 93
  • Sweden – 90
  • Switzerland – 15
  • United Kingdom – 830

Storage Facilities Set to Expand in 2014

Despite the low numbers of self storage operations in the UK when compared to the United States, they are on the increase.  Currently there are 400 operators working in the sector, and 81% of those are expected to open new facilities in 2014 whilst 11% of correspondents to the survey are planning on expansion over the next twelve months.  Much of this optimism comes as a result of the UK economy showing signs of improvement for the first time since the global recession.

This improvement is based upon positive signs in the housing market that house prices and sales are going to rise, with the knock-on effect being more people around the UK will be needing storage facilities on temporary to long-term leases.

The Future of the UK Self Storage Industry

It looks like the storage industry is set to continue to grow in the United Kingdom with yet another year showing year on year upward trends.  Reasons for the continual growth can be attributed to the fact that there are multi-site operators, as well as a recent increase in new entry companies who tend to operate from one location with one set of premises.

Conclusion: It’s an exciting time to work in the industry here in the UK, and one hopes over time the UK can start to challenge this rather interesting statistic:

  • Self storage square foot per person in the United Kingdom: 0.5
  • Self storage square foot per person in the United States: 7.4

That stat alone put the two countries industries into a very clear perspective.

Author Bio: Compiled and written by the online team for the Self Storage Southampton website.  Based in the UK, the company offers storage in Southampton to individual and business customers with premises based in the Docklands part of the city. The website frequently has UK storage related articles added to their blog.

This article is a guest post. The thoughts and ideas in this post do not necessarily reflect those of