Self-storage is often regarded as a resilient asset class when compared to other property sectors; people need someplace to store their stuff no matter the ebbs and flows of the economy. As such, it has attracted a good deal of capital and interest, especially in the current environment where the threat of Covid-19 still casts a shadow on more traditional sectors like office and retail.

In this post, we look at what the Canadian self-storage market looks like and who are the players involved.

Ripe For Consolidation

Similar to the U.S., the Canadian self-storage landscape is highly fragmented with approximately 3,500 self-storage facilities in total. The biggest player, StorageVault, currently operates 207 facilities nationwide and controls roughly 6% of the market based on the number of locations. The next biggest operator is U-Haul with 142 locations, followed by StorageMart and Public Storage with 68 and 64 facilities, respectively.

It is also worth noting that unlike the U.S., where REITs like Public Storage and CubeSmart dominate many of the markets, Canada still has a few national players. StorageVault is currently the only operator that is publicly traded with a presence in all Canadian provinces. Consequently, Canadians are more likely to be more acquainted with local brands in their home markets such as BigSteelBox in British Columbia and Apple Storage in Ontario. While this may be good news for such regional players, the possibility of regional operators being acquired or muscled out by a well-capitalized, national brand is high. Growth through acquisition in this industry is likely the most economical and least time-consuming strategy.

Toronto – A Red Ocean

As Canada‚Äôs most populous city and business capital, it is not surprising to see that Toronto has become the hotbed for self-storage. Relatively new players like Bluebird Storage, XYZ Storage, and Dymon Storage have been building and buying new facilities with an eye to stake out their territory in a submarket. With competition becoming more and more fierce, we are seeing more operators employ ‘clustering’ as a strategy to deter new players from encroaching on their pastures. StorageMart and StorageVault appear to be pursuing this strategy more so than others.

Self-storage has no doubt undergone a rapid transformation. From a boring row of lockers in the boonies, many facilities are turning into high-end, temperature-controlled, multi-story security vaults. While the Canadian market is still catching up with that of the U.S. in terms of supply, it is likely to see rapid growth in the next few decades given the resiliency in demand, population growth, and declining home sizes. Consequently, competition is likely to become more fierce demanding greater rigor in site strategy and management. Self-storage operators need to be at the forefront in leveraging technology and intelligence to underpin growth decisions.

Pelion currently has over 800 self-storage properties in its database. To subscribe, reach out to schedule a demo.

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