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In Nation of Hoarders, Self-Storage Spots Outnumber McDonald's

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The stratospheric growth of the self-storage industry has been a relatively quiet commercial real estate success story. To put it in perspective, the industry has 48,500 locations across the country, more than triple the number of McDonald's (14,350) restaurants, and generates $24 billion in revenue every year. That means that the warehouses, garages and pods holding your ski equipment and holiday decorations take up so much space they generate $3.25 billion in state and local property taxes each year. According to, America's attachment to stuff (one in every ten rents storage space) has been a boon to investors, who love investing in a real estate sector that rarely sees defaults and has occupancy rates north of 90 percent during boom times. "There is about 7 square feet of self-storage space nationally for each person in the United States," according to Maurice Pagoda, an expert quoted in the story who invests in the industry.

Paying someone to hold on to your extra stuff is a behavior that's increasingly not limited to the United States. According to Forbes, economic trends in Asia favor the rapid growth of this industry, since the middle class in fast-growing countries such as China and India is expected to quintuple in the next five years. The Economist has also observed a boom in Britain, where the growing industry is fighting for space in a country where it's at even more of a premium. In typical dry English wit, the magazine notes that the hoarder mentality has given self-storage firms added security. "A cynic might compare human squirrels unfavourably to the wild sort, which usually remember to dig up their nuts come springtime."

Think there's a McDonald's on every corner? Try counting the number of self-storage facilities dotting the country []