The popularity of self-storage is growing in the UK. Figures from Statista reveal that the number of people using such services nearly doubled in the last four years. In 2018, 1.29 per cent of people rented self-storage units but that increased to more than 2.28 per cent in 2022.
But what’s driving this popularity? That’s the topic we explore here. We explain why self-storage is important, who uses it the most, and what items most people store in their units.
Why is self-storage important?
Self-storage is important for many reasons but the overarching utility is its flexibility. There are so many situations where it comes in handy.
Many people, for instance, use it for home clearouts. When they feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of possessions they own, they turn to self-storage as a kind of pressure relief valve. It lets them shift items out of their home.
Self-storage is also critical for people moving house. It’s a great way to take the stress out of moving day and transfer possessions at leisure. Self-storage eliminates the need to move everything in a single afternoon.
Home renovators are also big users of self-storage. Rather than trying to shoehorn possessions into whatever space remains in their homes, they farm out the operation to self-storage units. These then keep their items safe until they complete work, again providing much-needed flexibility and space.
There are many other reasons people use storage besides these, including:
- Empty nesters wanting to store their kids’ possessions away from home until they’re needed
- Gardeners looking for extra space to keep all their tools and equipment
- Students wanting to keep their possessions somewhere over the summer for the following academic year
- Families with a baby on the way looking to remove items from their homes to make them safer
- Young people taking a gap year overseas
- People who want to work abroad for a while but intend to return to the UK in the future
- Individuals undergoing changes in relationship status
- Companies looking for a place to keep desks, folders, computer equipment and chairs
Who Uses self-storage the most?
The biggest users of self-storage units are people who are moving house. Having extra space to store items takes some of the pressure off.
The next most common category are people looking to free up space at home. Storage solutions to help homeowners manage their possessions better. Other common users of self-storage include owners who want to keep their vehicles safe in the off-season, people who want to store a loved one’s belonging, and those undergoing relationship status changes.
In terms of demographics, generation Xers are the biggest self-storage users. 44 per cent say that they currently use units or used them in the past, with a further 21 per cent claiming that they intend to use them in the future.
Baby boomers are the next-most interested generation with 38 per cent saying they have an interest in self-storage. Surprisingly, millennials are the least interested, with just 30 per cent of the cohort using these services.
Data also exist on the income brackets that use self-storage the most. According to figures, 78 per cent of self-store users fall somewhere between the lower and upper middle class. These people typically have the income to support self-storage use but are also in most need of extra space when responding to major life events.
What do most people store in storage units?
People store just about everything you can think of in self-storage units. The most popular items for storing are as follows:
Coming in at the top of the list is furniture. Big, bulky items, like coffee tables, chairs and wardrobes are often the first items people consider placing in self-storage when moving or decluttering their homes. They take up the most room, so it makes sense to get them out of the way.
Self-storage is particularly convenient for furniture because it lets people store items in one piece. They don’t have to disassemble them which can be a challenge. It’s also an excellent way to protect items from pests – far superior to a conventional garage.
The next most popular item is seasonal décor. While you might be able to store a bit of tinsel and a few baubles in a single cardboard box in the attic, many of today’s seasonal arrangements are far more extravagant. Giant plastic reindeer and rooftop Santa slay displays are big and bulky and require dedicated storage space.
People also use self-storage units to keep bulky electronics. They’re a great place to keep items until you sell them or need them again. Just make sure that you carefully pack cords and wires away when storing electronics, and disconnect them from chargers.
You shouldn’t store any valuables, such as gold coins or bullion, in self-storage units. However, they can be a great place to keep other collectables, such as toy cars, old records, stamps, or art. Just make sure that the storage units you choose offer the correct temperature and humidity envelope to keep your items in good condition.
Books And DVDs
Lastly, people use self-storage for their books and DVD collections. It feels wrong to throw these items in the bin, so many homeowners rent out storage units for them instead.