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Too much stuff? The self-storage industry keeps on growing

First it costs money to buy stuff, then it costs money to store it ....

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In the aftermath of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as you contemplate all the gift-stuff you've bought to give away, the gift-stuff you're likely to receive in return, and where exactly you and your various gift-recipients are supposed to find room for it all, it's worth remembering that retailers aren't the only ones likely to make money off holiday shopping excess: self-storage companies are, too.

Bloomberg Businessweek noted that the number of self-storage units in America doubled from 1998 to 2012. According to the Self Storage Association, a non-profit trade organization for self-storage business owners, the industry made $24 billion in America last year. On average, a 10'x10' storage unit in the U.S. rented at $115 per month for a non-climate controlled unit, and $146 for climate-controlled.

Bloomberg quoted Ronald Havner, CEO of Public Storage, as saying most demand for storage units stems from what Havner calls the “four Ds” – death, divorce, disaster, dislocation. “People moving, people changing their lives in terms of death or divorce. Hurricanes, tornadoes upset people’s lives and require storage facilities.”

The four Ds surely explain some of the demand for self-storage units, but can't entirely explain why the number of storage units in the U.S. doubled in the past 14 years, when the four Ds did not.

Statistics aren't available to show how storage-unit rentals break down in terms of short-term versus long-term rentals – how many people rent a unit for a year or less, and what percentage of renters keep their storage units more or less permanently?

If you have too much stuff to fit it all in your home, sometimes that means you need a larger home or a storage unit – but sometimes, it just means you have too much stuff.

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