The U.S. remains to be a leader in self storage worldwide. However, not many are aware that other developed countries are also keeping up including those in the Southeast Asian region. One of them is Japan.
The Japanese industry has been growing in a discreet manner that many U.S. operators were surprised upon learning about the issue in the 2011 self storage conference held in Las Vegas, Nevada. As of now, no U.S. operator has yet penetrated the Japanese market.
Recent data shows Japan’s annual revenue and market share being significant compared to the leading countries. The country is in the fourth spot with a yearly revenue of $260 million, a little more than half as that of Europe’s. In terms of market penetration, it has gained 0.2 percent.
Growth has been experienced steadily as storage supply went up in the country. Data from a 2010 survey done by operator Quraz revealed a 10 percent growth every year for self storage. In a two-year period from 2008-2010, it was found that unit supply went up by 19 percent.
Factors that led to the industry’s growth were the existence of more quality storage facilities as well as an increase in the people’s awareness of better quality units. In Japan, many facilities are reused office buildings. Some of these are often even bigger than those in other countries.
Major reasons of people for using rental units were also found to be similar to that of the U.S. These include the need for more storage space which they can rent on a monthly basis and the need for keep personal belongings outside of their home or office.
To date, the top five self storage operators in Japan are Quraz, Arealink, Reise Box, Kase and Terrada. Quraz has 36 facilities with a total of 22,000 units. The company’s annual gross potential revenue is $50 million followed by Arealink with $40 million and Reise Box with $30 million.
In terms of size, the average unit storage in this Asian country is 30 square feet. The most preferred size is one that can accommodate one to two tatami. Tatami refers to a mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms. This measures around 18 square feet. When compared with the average size in the U.S. which is 150 square feet, Japan’s is smaller.
Experts pointed out there are reasons behind the difference in unit sizes between the U.S. and Japan. One primary reason is that Americans tend to have the habit of accumulating more stuff through the years and not letting go of many of them which is why they turn to self storage facilities to keep their extra stuff.
The Japanese, on the other hand, live in small homes only measuring just 300 to 500 square feet. A 2003 Housing and Land survey done by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed that an average living space in Japan measures only around 1,020 square feet. As such, many people there rely on just a small self storage unit and use it as a sort of extension of their house where they can keep important personal belongings.