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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

The State of the Canadian Self-Storage Market


Self-storage units

While every self-storage market is unique, there are common challenges that industry professionals face, especially during tough economic times. Robert Madsen, president of U-Lock Mini-Storage Group, shares his insights on the current state of the Canadian self-storage industry, the hurdles faced, and the outlook for the future.

 

The General State of Canadian Self-Storage in 2024


The Canadian self-storage industry has been relatively stagnant in 2024. According to Madsen, revenue levels have neither significantly declined nor increased, as operators manage their revenue carefully. However, there is noticeable pressure on occupancy rates, with a decline from the peaks of 2022.


The demand for self-storage has also decreased, primarily due to the rapid rise in interest rates, impacting decision-making and the residential real estate markets. These markets typically feed into self-storage needs due to relocations and home renovations. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a significant uptick in move-outs, leading to a generally stable, albeit stagnant, industry landscape across Canada. However, markets like Alberta are experiencing an economic boom, presenting an exception.

 

Customer Base Dynamics


The self-storage customer base in Canada is diverse and varies depending on location. Suburban facilities typically have a high residential tenant base, while downtown facilities attract more businesses needing space for inventory or operations. This diversity helps mitigate the risks associated with economic fluctuations, as different customer segments provide stability.

 

Development Trends and Challenges


Interest in ground-up self-storage development remains strong. However, the cost of conversions often rivals new developments, providing little advantage. In regions like downtown Vancouver, significant building activities have led to a temporary imbalance between supply and demand, requiring time for market stabilization.

Western Canada faces challenges such as expensive land, high construction costs, and lengthy entitlement and planning processes. Property taxes are also high, making new developments more attractive than purchasing existing facilities, as few owners are willing to sell.

 

Industry Challenges and Technological Advancements


Aside from land scarcity for new construction, staffing has become a significant challenge, with high living costs driving up salary expectations. Financing constraints also add pressure, as banks exercise caution in lending.


Technological advancements are increasingly impactful, with AI integration and enhanced software improving customer retention and acquisition. Online rental processes and advanced access control systems are enhancing customer experiences and positively influencing the bottom line.

 

Future Outlook


Madsen remains cautiously optimistic about the future. While the short term may see continued stagnation, a return to a more positive normal is anticipated in 2025, driven by ongoing population and business growth. The Canadian self-storage industry, with its resilient operators and diverse customer base, is well-positioned to navigate these challenging times and continue serving communities effectively.

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