South African Self Storage
Self storage in South Africa is not a new concept but one that is still some way behind the development and use of the product in the US and UK. However South African’s are becoming aware of the benefits of self storage as the industry grows and major players embark on marketing programs specifically aimed at education about the product.
Many South African’s will make use of self storage at some stage in their lives; traditional demand drivers are prevalent and show signs of increasing in 2011. These may be moving or renovating ones home, packing up student dorms, a death or birth in the family, business storing documents/records and/or office furniture or couples getting together and storing excess furniture.
However another demand driver seems to be on the rise as South African’s become aware of the benefits of using self storage as a lifestyle choice. Many people are now making use of a self storage unit to store seasonal sports equipment. South African’s love their sport and the weather lends a great deal of motivation to be active outdoors. Self storage is ideal for keeping cricket equipment, surfing items or kite boarding kit. Many of these self storage users will visit their local self storage facility on the weekend to collect their recreational goods and enjoy the fact that it no longer clutters their homes or garages.
Another cause for increase in demand of self storage in South Africa is the recent global economic downturn, this has forced many South African’s to downsize homes and thus use self storage but more importantly it has furthered the development of small home business enterprises. Removing items in spare rooms and garages has allowed the use of this space for home businesses to thrive. In response to this the South African self storage industry has seen an increase in the number of new facilities being built.
Many of the new players in the market are developing single story facilities located on the urban edge (termed first or second generation facilities) and have small reception areas, without offering any packaging or ancillary sales. This is in keeping with the largely fragmented self storage market in South Africa.
However larger operators are starting to develop modern multi-storey facilities that offer a range of services and are located in the heart of CBD areas or close to major intersections. One such facility, operated by Stor-Age, is located in the heart of the Cape Town CBD and is a purpose built three storey building comparable to the most modern facilities anywhere in the world. The development of this type of facility will be the future of what self storage users in South Africa will expect of the service.
Despite the industry being relatively young compared to the US, UK and Australasian markets, there is major move to the use of the internet to find self storage. Historically the Yellow Pages or print advertisements where the main contributors to self storage enquiries, however as with most technological advancements, South African’s drop into the use of services after an initial ‘teething’ and development has taken place in the US and European markets. A good example was the use of the cellular network on an analogue system which was then converted to a digital network. As a result South Africa companies developed their own cellular network on the more advance digital network almost from the start.
Similarly self storage can now be developed based on the concepts learnt in more developed markets. The latest Stor-Age store in Gardens, Cape Town now offers a business centre with internet access for clients, free van service, trolleys to move goods, wide passages for ease of use, state-of-the-art steel self storage systems and a host of packaging materials for sale in reception.
The future of self storage in South Africa looks bright as the market goes through its’ first period of consolidation and demand drivers continue to rise. First and second generation facilities will attract less interest from prospective users as the market becomes educated and modernised. More modern facilities will continue to be built as operators look to create dominance within the market.