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Britons Renting More Goods To Get Better Value For Time And Money

A growing number of companies are renting out goods and services as a result of consumers seeking short-term solutions - and the trend is set to continue.

As economic uncertainty continues to bite, consumers are seeking not only value for money, but value for their time spent, and as a result are choosing to rent, rather than buy certain products.

And Pippa Goodman, a trend consultant at market research firm The Future Foundation, told Huffington Post UK the practice of renting is here to stay.

"This is a trend where we see long-term growth potential," she said. "As a nation, we're being a lot smarter and savvier with our money, and consumers are increasingly worried about their waste impact on the environment too."

Goodman said that despite the focus on saving the pennies, we still have a need for novelty entertainment, luxury items and rich experiences - finding a more cost efficient way to do that is simply the next step.

Recession psyche and the integration of technology into consumers' lives has re-booted Brits' approach to consumption, which has led to a rise in what the Future Foundation calls the ‘alternative ownership’ models - evolving long-established options such as renting and second-hand purchase into more contemporary offers.

This 'pay-as-you-live' mentality is resulting in more companies renting goods people are currently used to buying.

Brits are used to renting luxury cars, but could they rent other luxury goods in future?

Zipcar - a car sharing and rental service which allows you to rent cars for hours, rather than days - is becoming increasingly popular with businesses as well as consumers.

Mark Walker, general manager for Zipcar, told Huff Post UK that start-up businesses often wanted the convenience of being able to rent a car as and when they needed it, rather than pay a large outlay cost of buying and maintaining a vehicle.

"If you're a small company the last thing you want to deal with is a high fixed cost, what they need are variable costs; that's something we hear loud and clear from businesses."

Zipcar produced some research this week which estimated the value of pay-as-you-live lifestyle in the UK is £22.4 billion.

Unsurprisingly, cars topped the list of things that Brits would most consider hiring and sharing, but it also found many of us would not rule out hiring less traditional items, such as art (49%), clothing (47%) and children’s toys (54%).

The top items Brits own, but no longer use and could rent out, include a bicycle (21%), prams (19%), Blu-rays and DVDs (15%), car seats (13%) and books (11%).

And the main reasons given for hiring, rather than buying, are not being able to afford to buy it (53%), cost per use (60%), depreciation in value (38%), ongoing maintenance costs (45%) and flexibility to upgrade or change models (29%).

A whole host of other businesses are seeing the potential in offering rental services including ParkAtMyHouse, which offers people space on their driveways, GirlsMeetDress, which rents out luxury clothes, Mini-Lodgers, which shares baby and young children equipment such as car seats, and Deskwanted, which rents out office space.

One company seeking to exploit the number of homeware items consumers have gathering dust in cupboards and garages is Storemates.

Founder Shaff Prabatan set up his marketplace for people to rent out storage space for others to use was set up in January 2012, but already he's seeing opportunity to expand.

"I've been gathering anecdotal evidence, speaking to people on the street, and asking what they wouldn't mind renting out from their homes - and there's a huge list," he told Huff Post UK.

"They offered everything from paddling pools to bread-makers to their lawn mower. Others wanted to rent out their tennis racquets."

Would you consider hiring out a paddling pool, rather than buying one?

Prabatan is convinced people's attitudes are changing and that the advent of sites like eBay, where consumers sell goods to each other, was going a long way to convince cynics who are worried about the quality of goods on offer.

"People will do more peer-to-peer trading in future," he said. "This isn't a short-term event - once people's behaviours have changed they won't go back - no-one's predicting that low-cost airlines will lose customers when the economy recovers, it's the same with this."

Currently however, the number of people willing to try this new way of consuming goods is small; just 19% of of 18-54 year olds and 10% of over 55s would choose to hire, rather than buy goods, according to Zipcar.

If a business wants to consider renting its goods out, Zipcar's Walker recommends starting at a hyper-local level.

"With us, we initially just had eight cars in the original locality, then as we branched out we were able to scale up."