Trunkroom Channel English

Market trends in rental storage

Mr. Akira Sugawara
Yano Research Institute Ltd.


This is a series of ten reports on the storage business and self-storage markets in Japan, from a market environment perspective.

No. 1 What is the storage business?
No. 2 Macro Trends in the Population/Number of Households and Expansion of Storage Service Users
No. 3 Housing and the storage business
No. 4 Rental storage and container storage
No. 5 Market trends in rental storage
No. 6 Market trends in container storage
No. 7 Storage business as real estate business
No. 8 Storage business seen from map data
No. 9 Storage business seen from survey results
No.10 Storage business potential going forward

In No. 1, we divided storage services broadly into three categories. Indoor rental storage and container storage are often both classified as trunk rooms, but here we want to draw a comparison between indoor rental storage and container storage. Finally, we would also like to describe briefly how they differ from trunk rooms.

Number of rental storage spaces per household

The nationwide number of storage spaces in indoor rental storage facilities per household is 0.0028 (calculated based on the total number of households at the end of March 2012). This is equivalent to about one room for every 350 households. However, if we look only at the Greater Tokyo Area, which accounts for around 70% of all storage rooms, the number of storage rooms in indoor rental storage facilities per household is 0.0060, or about one room for every 167 households. Narrowing it down further to just Tokyo, the figures are 0.0103 rooms per household, or around 1 room per 97 households.
This works out to there being about 1 or 2 rooms in the vicinity of the average apartment.

How many indoor rental storage facilities are there nationwide?

So, where are these indoor rental storage facilities, and roughly how many are there?
According to our survey carried out in July 2013, there are 2,281 locations nationwide. Figure 1 shows the companies operating in the same 2,000-location (store) class in Japan. The list includes many stores and brands that are relatively familiar to most people. Just like these stores, there may also be an indoor rental storage facility within the area where you live. Do try and find one.

[Figure 1 Major chain companies with around 2,000 locations nationwide]

  • Shimamura Group 1,808 stores (as of Feb 2014)
    (1,274 Shimamura stores, 271 Avail stores, 139 Birthday stores, and others)
  • Sukiya (Zensho) 1,984 stores (as of Mar 2014)
  • Fast Retailing 2,061 stores (as of Mar 2014)
    (849 Uniqlo stores (domestic), 250 GU stores, 435 Theory stores, and others)
  • Monteroza 2,076 stores (as of Mar 2014)
    (Irakuya “Shirokiya,” Nomikuidokoro “Uotami,” Irakuya “Wara Wara,” and others)
  • Ministop (Aeon Group) 2,197 stores (as of Mar 2014)
  • Skylark Group 2,600 stores (as of Mar 2014)
    (1,348 Gusto stores, 343 Bamiyan stores, 304 Jonathan’s stores, and others)

(Summary of companies’ published figures by Yano Research Institute)

With indoor rental storage facilities, however, they are more scattered and relatively concentrated in urban areas. Figure 2 lists the 2,281 locations I mentioned earlier by prefecture. Tokyo stands out with 41.5% of the total, and the total of the top ten prefectures accounts for more than 90%. (Incidentally there are six prefectures with no indoor rental storage.) Consequently, indoor rental storage has not yet reached the length and breadth of the country as the above-mentioned national chains have.

[Figure 2 Number of indoor rental storage facilities by prefecture]
Prefecture No. of locations Share
Tokyo 946 41.5%
Osaka 339 14.9%
Kanagawa 307 13.5%
Hyogo 109 4.8%
Saitama 106 4.6%
Kyoto 76 3.3%
Nara 57 2.5%
Shizuoka 54 2.4%
Chiba 49 2.1%
Aichi 40 1.8%
Toral 2,281 100%

(From research by Yano Research Institute)

Characteristic area trends in indoor rental storage

We mentioned before that that indoor rental storage seems to be concentrated in urban prefectures, but it is actually concentrated in the more urban areas. We will therefore describe their development state in the centers of the three major metropolitan areas. Looking at the distribution of self-storage inside Tokyo’s Yamanote Line, inside the Osaka Loop Line, and in Sakae in central Nagoya (since that city does not have a loop line), we can see that it is made up of nearly all indoor rental storage (Figures 3, 4 and 5).

[Figure 3 Distribution of indoor rental storage and container storage around the Yamanote Line, Tokyo]

Figure 3  Distribution of indoor rental storage and container storage around the Yamanote Line, Tokyo


(●: rental storage ◆: container storage)

[Figure 4 Distribution of indoor rental storage and container storage around the Osaka JR Loop Line]

Figure 4  Distribution of indoor rental storage and container storage around the Osaka JR Loop Line


(●: rental storage ◆: container storage)

[Figure 5 Distribution of indoor rental storage and container storage around the central commercial district of Nagoya]

Figure 5 Distribution of indoor rental storage and container storage around the central commercial district of Nagoya


(●: rental storage ◆: container storage)

Major players in indoor rental storage

So what kind of companies are the players (service providers) in indoor rental storage?

[Players and numbers of locations]
According to our research, 450 companies are running indoor rental storage facilities nationwide (including companies and one-man businesses operating as franchises.) A feature of indoor rental storage is that most operators, 66.4% of the total, provide services at only one location (Figure 6). From an analysis of the business attributes of operators, we can guess that in many cases owners of one building utilize their empty floors (or empty space) to start a rental storage business.

[Figure 6 Player composition ratio by number of developed locations]

Figure 6  Player composition ratio by number of developed locations


(From research by Yano Research Institute)

Analysis of operators ranked according to the most locations shows that the top three companies have a combined share of 36.3% of all locations. Looking at the number of locations of the top ten companies, their combined share accounts for more than half at 51.6% (Figure 7).
The recent trend is for many new operators to enter the market while the leading players also steadily increase their number of locations, which is why the market composition ratio is not showing much change. Medium-size operators (with two to ten locations) have not increased their number of locations much.

[Figure 7 Composition ratio of top players in number of locations]

Combined share of locations of top three companies
Combined share of locations of top three companies
Blue: Top Three Companies / Orange: Other
Combined share of locations of top ten companies
Combined share of locations of top ten companies
Blue: Top Ten Companies / Orange: Other
(From research by Yano Research Institute)

Ranking indoor rental storage operators according to which has the most locations, first is Reise (including Tokyo Reise), followed by Arealink then Kase Soko, City Housing, and NPS Tokyodoh. Arealink and Kase Soko have aimed to develop nationwide but the only places where they have launched rental storage facilities have been urban areas. Reise have only grown in Greater Tokyo and the Kansai area, City Housing have concentrated on Ota-ku and Shinagawa-ku in Tokyo, and NPS Tokyodoh have expanded from Tokyo Metropolis to the Tama area and parts of Saitama.

[Players and number of rooms]
The number of rooms (or number of units) means the number of individual storage spaces that are created by dividing up one location and then let under individual contracts. We surveyed the number of rooms in each location (facility, building, floor, etc.) and estimated that the total number of units nationwide is in excess of 150,000.
As with the number of locations, an analysis of operators ranked according to the most rooms shows that the top three companies have a combined share of 41.0% of all rooms. The top ten companies have a combined share that accounts for more than half at 56.1% (Figure 8).

[Figure 8 Composition ratio of top players in number of rooms]

Combined share of rooms of top three companies
Combined share of rooms of top three companies
Blue: Top Three Companies / Orange: Other
Combined share of locations of top ten companies
Combined share of rooms of top three companies
Blue: Top Ten Companies / Orange: Other

(From research by Yano Research Institute)

Ranking indoor rental storage companies by number of rooms, Quraz is the leader with its focus on large-scale stores. Next is Reise, followed by Arealink, Kase Soko, and Keiyo Distribution Warehouse.

The share of these top three companies is higher than that of the top three in terms of number of locations. At the time of our survey, the top three companies owned more than 10,000 rooms, but there is some fall in the number of rooms in the companies below them, from fifth position down.

[Categories of players]
We have broadly categorized the main players in indoor rental storage. There are some differences in the content of the rental storage services of each company. Apart from location and cost, if we compare the operators’ reliability, security, and services such as air-conditioning, there are many unexpected differences, and users may be able to look for some services that match their own utilization purposes.

1. Railway groups:
Railway group operators have developed services mainly for the effective utilization of space underneath elevated railway tracks. The Tokyu Group has started to develop stores in areas near its stations other than underneath railway tracks.
Major operators: Odakyu, Sotetsu, Keihan, Keisei, Tokyu, Metro Kaihatsu, Tobu, Keio, Japan Railways, etc.

2. Storage/logistics:
There are cases of storage and logistics companies entering the rental storage business as an extension of their warehousing business trunk room operations, and of others entering as estate agent operators to effectively utilize their empty warehouses.
Major operators: Terrada Warehouse, Oshiire, Keiyo Distribution Warehouse, Naka Nihon Van Lease, Storage Service, Miyako Transport, etc.

3. Construction:
During storage space construction projects, construction companies also run rental storage services. They make proposals to land owners on how to effectively utilize their land.
Major operators: Reise, Storage-Oh, etc.

4. Materials:
Many common items with construction and container business. Operators have developed their storage business utilizing temporary materials, second-hand containers, etc. This can also be seen as one kind of proposal for the effective utilization of property.
Major operators: Sankyo Frontier, Daiwa Lease, Kase Soko, Inaba Seisakusho, etc.

5. Property development:
Companies own land and buildings themselves with which they develop their storage business. They also have a service operator side in order to develop their storage services full-time.
Major operators: Quraz, Trust One, Storage Plus, Arealink, etc.

6. Property management/mediation:
Property management is often done by especially regional property operators. They develop rental storage as one form of property management. Being based in local areas, they are characterized by their dominant style of store expansion.
Major operators: Kase Soko, Arealink, Orient Home, NPS Tokyodoh, Hirota, Yoshizumi Home, etc.

7. Franchises:
Provide knowhow on storage service business models and expand franchises among land owners, etc.
Major operators: YourSpace, Land Pia, Oshiire, Ambitious, etc.

8. Cross-industry:
All operators have aspects of being cross-industry, but many enter the rental storage business having been operators handling warehousing, property, and container business.
Major operators: Aichi Sharyo Kogyo, Akatsuki Financial Group, etc.


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