As with many industries, self-storage emerged in America in the 1950s. Lauderdale Storage in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was the first unit to be opened by the Collum family in 1958.
There are now more than 53,000 units across the whole of the USA, and the number internationally is growing rapidly all the time.
Arriving here in the 1980s, today there are believed to be nearly 1,000 self storage facilities in the UK, with a combined floor space of over 30,000,000 square feet. The vast majority are based in major cities like London and Manchester.
Self storage has a broad appeal. Domestic users typically seek one of these facilities because they are moving house, getting divorced, dealing with the death of a loved on, travelling, or going to university. Business users,meanwhile, may use these facilities to store and process stock or inventory.
Due to the global recession, the number of people having need for self-storage has risen drastically. Typically those affected by the recession are those who have been forced to downsize their homes, and businesses who are to offloading or acquiring excess stock. The benefits to businesses are flexibility, and the fact that rates and council tax are included in the fee, which often makes self-storage cheaper than owning or renting your own premises.
According to the Self Storage Association, the trade body for the UK self-store industry, there are 815 recognised facilities in the UK. However, the number of storage facilities is likely to be higher than this when small, private facilities are included. 2,000 people are employed in the industry which now has combined revenue of more than £350m per annum.
28% of all facilities are found in London, with a further 35% located in the South. The FLEXiSPACE self-storage facility in Manchester is one of 23% of storage units that are based in the North and in Scotland. The industry continues to grow, and there is now an average of 0.5sq ft per capita in the UK alone.