Why is the self-storage industry in London booming?
Expatistan is a community-driven database that receives and compiles data from its users. According to its cost of the living report for October 2020, London ranks as the most expensive city in the UK and ranks no. 9 in the world.
The monthly cost of living for an individual is an estimated £3,019. London’s housing crisis has made space – quality and affordable space – a sought after asset. The competition for space might even get more intense in the coming years as there is a projected increase in the population of urban areas like London.
As such, people are often forced to live a minimalist lifestyle to cope with the high costs of living. COVID-19 and its effects have also added to this urgent need to live with less and buy less. With such dismal looking prospects, how is the self-storage industry booming in these times?
Work from home transition and the need to tidy up
The 2020 Self Storage Annual Industry Report shows that self-storage caters to both domestic and professional customers. The lockdown in the UK due to COVID-19 led to domestic inquiries surpassing business inquiries for self-storage services. Although there is no clear evidence yet that can explain this shift, it has been suggested that the transition to a work-from-home setting played a significant role.
As most of the workforce is to remain in their homes for the duration of the lockdown, their domestic space had to be transformed into a workspace. This change perhaps entails making an inventory of the household items and deciding what items can be put into storage. Of course, not everyone has storage space to make this shift – which is where self-storage enters the picture.
Making space for a milestone
The work-from-home transition is not the only reason people use self-storage for personal use. As the 2020 Report notes, self-storage gives a convenient space for people to use in moving on to a new chapter in their lives, like marriage, divorce, birth, or death.
For students, in particular, self-storage units have a seasonal value during the holidays or when they transition to the workforce. Milestones in life don’t stop just because of a pandemic, so the need to make space for that milestone will remain during and after COVID-19. Small to medium businesses have also seen the potential of self-storage for their own type of work-from-home transition due to the pandemic.
Online transition and virtual consumers
Malling culture and physical shopping have been put to a stop due to the lockdown. Businesses can no longer rely on literal foot traffic to tempt customers into buying their goods and, as a cost-cutting measure, most businesses have ceased renting a physical space for their shops.
Essential businesses, like food and medicine, will not run out of customers anytime soon, but non-essential businesses have to think of a way to continue despite the pandemic. One answer is to shift to online shopping.
Large businesses may have no need for the self-storage industry because they have enough space on their own, but small to medium enterprises do not have this type of resource. So, they have to avail of self-storage services to continue in this pandemic.
The data from the 2020 Report shows the profile of a typical business using self storage services: a small business (with 10 staff members at most) in retail or professional services. Shifting to an online business does not completely mean moving all operations online. Physical space is still needed to store products, and self-storage services provide a cheaper alternative to renting and maintaining a commercial space.
The many options of self-storage facilities in London
The Self Storage Association UK (SSAUK) puts the number of self-storage sites in the UK at more than 1,900. London itself has twice the self-storage capacity per capita of any region in the UK. So, there’s plenty of options for self-storage facilities in London should the need ever arise.
Prices will, of course, vary per self-storage business, making it extremely important to look and to compare as many offers as possible. It would also be handy to be on the lookout for any rental rates that are flexible!
The location will definitely be a major factor in determining the price. If the items for storage will be kept there for a while, a location that’s a bit far but relatively cheap can still be a good option. The self-storage industry has also adapted to be more accessible to customers through upgrades in technology, and these upgrades also help in creating a safe environment that limits the transmission of illnesses like COVID-19.
Self-storage businesses generally don’t require a lot of staff at the premises to maintain the area. Any transaction or inquiry for self-storage services can also be easily done online. Maintaining social distancing will be easy in a transaction!