London self-storage rents now exceed prime offices

The Self-Storage industry in the UK is booming. More of us than ever are choosing to squirrel away our belongings in one of those giant, in-your-face, storage facilities that’ve popped up all over the place. Last year alone, 70 new stores (equivalent to 2.4 million square feet) were opened, bringing the UK total to 1,505 sites (45 million square feet). Renting storage in London now costs more per square foot than some of the City’s most iconic offices., the UKs No.1 comparison site for storage, recently obtained quotes from over 100 facilities across London. In some cases, the cost of renting a 25 square foot for 6 months was over £260 per month. According to National Property Agents JLL, the equivalent space in a Prime London Office costs £229 per month. Space in the iconic Shard skyscraper would cost £187 per month and Canary Warf, only £88 per month. Of course, there are lots of other factors to consider but the headline rents illustrate that storage is now a serious asset class.

The industry is being fuelled by increasing occupancy rates and higher average rents. The US storage phenomena which came to the UK in the 90’s is now a ‘thing’ thanks to TV programmes like Storage Wars and the ever-garish branding of the massive warehouses dotted around our road network. The UK storage industry now turns over £750 million per annum and by US standards, it has a long way to go until the market reaches saturation point. The UK has a measly 0.67 square feet of space per person compared to a whopping 7.3 square feet per person in the US.

According to the UK Self Storage Association’s 2018 Annual Report, 69% of users are either moving or needing more space to de-clutter their homes. We’re also living in smaller spaces but continuing to buy more ‘stuff’ which we’re reluctant to throw away. Around 40% of self-storage customers are now businesses with many professional firms and start-ups opting for flexible storage solutions rather than traditional business space.

Jamie Cumming (StorageMonkey Founder and PropTech Entreprenuer) says ‘As we continue to run out of space in the UK, the trend for storing things is set to continue. Home ownership is at its lowest level for 30 years and a new generation of footloose, flat renters is likely to add to the demand for more space. If the supply of new units struggles to keep up, then the cost of storing your stuff will continue to rise in our towns and cities’.