The UK A Nation of Hoarders

What makes us a nation of hoarders?

According to new research from Cushman & Wakefield and the Self Storage Association UK (SSA UK), in March 2015 there were approximately 2,650 storage facilities in Europe, over 80% are located in just six countries.

UK has the most storage facilities than any other country in Europe

UK has the most storage facilities than any other country in Europe

The UK is the largest market with 40% of the total, followed by France, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Sweden.

UK (INC. CONTAINERS): Population: 64,100,000 Est. no. of facilities: 1,077

FRANCE: Population: 66,874,000 Est. no. of facilities: 336

THE NETHERLANDS: Population: 16,982,000 Est. no. of facilities: 282

SPAIN: Population: 47,727,000 Est. no. of facilities: 263

GERMANY: Population: 79,829,000 Est. no. of facilities: 143

In terms of total storage space, the UK has around 46% of the total space in Europe. The UK also saw the greatest number of new stores in 2015, with around a third of all new European stores opening in the UK.

Occupancy rates for UK self-storage facilities grew by 4% in 2015 combined with other factors indications are that demand is growing faster than supply.

90% of people surveyed have now heard of Self Storage up from 77% in 2014, however, only 30% of people understand that only they have access to their items.

So are we really a nation of hoarders or have we just coined a phrase to cover the increasing use of storage facilities in the UK as we can see above?

According to NHS Choices website "Hoarding can start as early as the teenage years and gets more noticeable with age. Many people seem to start problematic hoarding in older age. It's estimated that between 2% and 5% of adults in the UK may have symptoms of a hoarding disorder."

It is not really understood as to why some people start to hoard, but it can be a associated with mental health issues -

In some cases, hoarding is a condition in itself and often associated with self-neglect. These people are more likely to:

  • live alone
  • be unmarried
  • have had a deprived childhood, with either a lack of material objects or a poor relationship with other members of their family
  • have a family history of hoarding
  • have grown up in a cluttered home and never learned to prioritise and sort items"
Items only used for special occasions

Items only used for special occasions

A lot of people with a hoarding disorder will have very strong emotional attachments to the items which they hold onto, but this can also be true for a big percentage of people who do not class themselves as hoarders, who store items in a facility such as ours at HomeStore Self Storage. Wedding presents which are only used on special occasions, childhood toys (either their own or their childrens') clothes, kitchen crockery only used at parties or Christmas, special Christmas decorations, work tools, family photographs, books, art projects, school projects, work projects... the list really does go on and on.

Having an emotional attachment to an item is okay and we do have this conversation from time to time with customers and sometimes putting the items in a storage unit so they are not sitting in a room at home helps to start to dissolve the bond between owner and item; this in turn can help to make it easier when deciding if the item is then still needed after it has been in storage for a while, or can actually be parted with.

What's the difference between hoarding and collecting?

"Many people collect items such as books or stamps and this isn’t considered a problem. The difference between a "hoard" and a "collection" is how these items are organised.

A collection is usually well-ordered and the items are easily accessible. A hoard is usually very disorganised, takes up a lot of room and the items are largely inaccessible."

The NHS Choices website has more information if you think you know someone who may need advise and help with a hoarding problem.

What do we really think?

So what do we put this down to, do we have more "Stuff" in the UK than in the rest of Europe? I doubt it. Do we have more disposable income to be able to use storage? Or another theory, are our homes smaller than in any other part of Europe, land at a premium price, smaller homes, less space which leads to no storage at home and the need for a storage unit for things we need but don't use often and can't keep at home.

I personally don't think that we are becoming a nation of hoarders, although with out doubt mental heath issues are on the increase, but again this is partly due to people being more open and accepting of the fact that mental health is important and we are recognising cases of stress and depression more than we ever have.

I believe there are so many connecting factors, size of homes, size of family, age at which adults now move into their own properties, age of first time house purchase, cost of living... that they all have an influence over our needs to store at an out of house storage facility.