Driven By The ‘Four Ds,’ The Self-Storage Business Is Booming

By Debra D. Bass
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Demand for self-storage is most often attributed to four major life events that the industry calls “the four Ds”: divorce, death, downsizing or dislocation (i.e. job loss).

ST. LOUIS

America, home of the free and land of self-storage.

Of all the self-storage in all the world, more than 75 percent of it is in the United States. There are nearly 50,000 self-storage facilities in the United States. The rest of the world has about 15,000 combined, according to the Self Storage Association.

Demand for self-storage is most often attributed to four major life events that the industry calls “the four Ds”: divorce, death, downsizing or dislocation (i.e. job loss).

“The big driver is change,” said Brad Schwer of Morningstar Equity Research. “In one way or another, people are looking for stability.”

The U.S. has an estimated 2.6 billion square feet of self-storage, according to the Self Storage Association. That’s about 8.1 square feet per person, and that’s growing.

“We’re not sure how long this trend will last. We think maybe we’re at the top of the bell curve,” said Mike Blackett, a senior vice president with the Alexandria, Va.-based trade group. “But the demand is there, and facilities are expanding, so you will see some price wars, competition and see who’s left standing.”

When a steady income or residence is elusive, leasing a small square of storage space for possessions can provide peace of mind, according to Beau Reinberg, co-owner of the 10-year-old W-Ave Storage facility in downtown St. Louis and the just-opened Extra Space Storage outside the city.

When the economy took a dip, he maximized income at W-Ave Storage by leasing to a roof-farming tenant. Part of the parking lot is a paid lot, but the other part is leased to a volleyball club.

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