Self-storage – A Necessary Niche

HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) — Widespread and unglamorous as it may seem, the self-storage industry in this country in fact provides an essential function by handling a couple of quintessentially American challenges: Effectively managing our belongings while maximizing our living space.

The plentitude of self-storage units, many located in warehouse- and even office-style buildings throughout the nation, presents visual proof that the industry is holding strong to its reputation as a valued service readily available to virtually all citizens.

StorageCafe, an online website providing storage unit listings and information,  recently set out to determine what forces are driving the market for stowing away paraphernalia and to pinpoint the latest trends in the use of self-storage facilities.

To compile this lengthy and probative report, “We asked nearly 4,000 people about their storage requirements in terms of both current usage and plans for the future,” said Aura Michelle Mogosanu, communications specialist for StorageCafe.

Right off the top, the survey determined that consumer spending for locating hideaway places for everything from heirlooms, furnishings, vehicles, even the cremated remains of family pets, surged 16 percent in 2023 compared to the previous year. That boost was attributed to shrinking apartment sizes and sustained enthusiasm for remote work, among other things.

While still a significant industry driver moving from house to house has declined in popularity compared to the draw it was a year earlier – 25 percent in 2023 vs. 34 percent in 2022, “aligning with the slowdown in local moves across the US,” says the StorageCafe report.

Researchers for StorageCafe also determined that while overall demand has dropped from its peak level set in 2022, requests for storage units remain strong and business operators are keen on catering to storage space needs. The total amount of new storage space delivered in 2023 reached 49 million SF, a 15.6 percent increase over the square footage added in 2022.

18 Percent of Americans Have a Storage Unit

The report contained a number of key takeaways, among them:

  • 18 percent of respondents currently rent a storage unit and another 14 percent say they plan to do so in the future. Taken together, that tally indicates that about a third of all Americans are in some way taking part in the industry that provides some 1.7 billion total SF of storage space around the US.
  • Among those not using self-storage, half state they have enough space for their stuff at home. Not surprisingly, homeowners are a lot more likely to say this than renters.
  • Storage of vehicles of all types — including cars, RVs and boats — rose to 9 percent from 6 percent last year, and no fewer than 13 percent say they plan to store vehicles in the future. Men are currently much more likely than women to store vehicles: 9 percent versus 4 percent.
  • With 55 percent of respondents renting regular units compared to only a third who opt for climate-controlled storage spaces, the latter is still a specialized service. In fact, the choice to go with climate-regulated units fell from 41 percent a year earlier.

Furniture No. 1

Furniture is still the most commonly stored item, says the survey. About a third of Americans say they put chairs, beds, tables and similar items into self-storage until needed. That is followed by clothing, home appliances, sporting items and hobby gear. Seven percent of survey respondents cited business purposes as their main reason for renting self-storage, marking an increase from the previous year

The storage unit rental market is also drawing on younger folks, the survey says. Last year, millennials already made up a fifth of storage renters, but have now increased their share of all customers to a quarter of the total.

Does Gen Z Need Self-Storage?

Add to this the 23 percent of millennial survey takers considering renting in the future and the survey comes up with a healthy 47 percent of people expressing an interest in renting self-storage. The survey calls his “a dramatic jump from last year’s 35 percent.”

Further underscoring the increasing youth-orientation of this business sector’s customer base, 28 percent of this year’s survey respondents aged 18 to 23 — which includes a hefty segment of Gen Z kids — are either currently renting storage units or are thinking about doing so, representing an increase from the combined total recorded in 2022.

Meanwhile, the shares of respondents in the Gen X and boomer age groups who either currently rent or intend to rent total 41 percent and 37 percent, respectively. Ten percent of 56-to-74-year-olds — compared to almost nobody younger than 40 — say they rent extra space primarily due to changes in household size, suggesting they often welcome relatives back to their homes, increasing the trend for multigenerational living.

Though it may seem peculiar, Madison, Wis., has experienced the most impressive surge in self-storage interest, tripling year-over-year, says the survey.  Florida and Arizona, both notable as migration hubs, put four and three cities, respectively, into the list of top 20 cities where growth of interest in storage units is strongest.

Texas, like all the aforementioned states, has been a top-10 in-migration magnet for the past decade. All these states have increased their populations by more than 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to US Census figures. The Lone Star State’s large storage inventories offer assistance to the many people moving in from other states.

Interstate migration, now at its highest in a decade, significantly impacts storage demand. In 2022, some 8.2 million Americans made long-distance moves. States experiencing the largest influxes of people — particularly Florida, Texas, California, North Carolina and Georgia — are more likely to witness a surge in interest for self-storage solutions. Searching for storage online is most intense in recent migration hotspots including Texas and Florida.

Feb. 2,  2024 Realty News Report Copyright 2024


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File: Self-storage – A Necessary Niche

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