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European Self Storage Industry Report 2023

October 25, 2023 8 Minute Read


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The 12th annual Federation of European Self Storage Associations (FEDESSA) survey, co-produced by CBRE for a second year, assesses the European self storage market. In what has been a turbulent year for operators, businesses, and consumers alike, the industry has navigated multiple challenges in the macroeconomic and wider socioeconomic landscape.

Despite these challenges, self storage has demonstrated its resilience as a sector. Institutional investors continue to deploy capital into the sector, REITs are establishing their self storage ownership credentials, while the owner-operator model continues to be successful for many businesses.

The 12th Annual survey conducted by the Federation of European Self Storage Associations (FEDESSA), continues its co-production with CBRE for a second year.

Industry Overview

Europe’s self storage market has 6,929 stores in operation, covering a total gross area of 13.9 million sq m. The leading four markets are the UK, France, Germany, and Spain, which account for 68% of Europe’s total number of stores. Year-to-date investment volumes have reached c. €342m, with a strong pipeline of M&A activity across Europe expected in the full year.

Demand remains strongest for larger businesses with an experienced management team and secured pipeline for future growth. There is also a growing interest in smaller aggregation “buy and build” plays with investors seeking to organically grow their own platforms from ground up.

Looking forward, while investor appetite remains robust, pricing is expected to remain flat with signs of weakening in some geographies. Much of this has been caused by the combination of slowing operational KPIs, particularly occupancy growth and tapered expectations for rental rates, as well as volatile private debt markets.

Public Survey

Taking the average of responses over the past two years, 45% of the public have not heard of self storage. A further 31% have heard of self storage but said they know nothing about the sector. Awareness is highest in the UK at 91% but drops to 45% in Italy. This emphasises how the industry has room to expand if awareness and understanding improves.

Operator Survey

Demand metrics are strong as operators continue to benefit from the sector’s structural demand drivers. Operators report healthy rental rates as well as competitive discount incentives to customers. This has generated new customer activity and has helped stores maintain optimal occupancy levels.

Development and Expansion

Operators have continued to expand their existing floorspace to satisfy growing demand for self storage. In the last year, just under 80,000 sq m were added to respondents’ existing footprint, an increase of 3% year-on-year.

There are 221 stores in the development pipeline across our survey sample, 59% of which are either under construction or have planning approved, with a further 41% waiting for planning approval.

The most popular building feature for new stores is unmanned access after hours (25% of respondents), followed by solar panels (21%) and electronic locks on units (15%). There has been a significant shift in the industry toward online services over the past three years. This has implications for both marketing and staff operations, as generating sales online is a very different process from doing so in person. Operators’ greater utilisation of technology has brought an array of benefits, including allowing for more dynamic pricing models based on the data that online transactions generate.

Operations and Industry Challenges

Self storage businesses’ strong operating capabilities has led to consistent profit results in the last year. Operators have been strategic with revenue generation, particularly in areas relating to business improvements. While adaptability in approach to staffing has maintained profit levels.

Inflation remains the primary concern for occupiers in 2023. Escalating cost-push inflation has been hampering operators’ incomes since 2021 and is expected to remain high for the remainder 2023. Rising land costs is the second-highest ranked challenge, growing in occupiers’ concern from 2022. This is followed by the threat of a potential recession, which is a key concern for operators.


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