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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Rising number of High Street agency offices despite online 'threat'

Despite the much-publicised 'threat' of online estate agency there were more high street offices opened in the first half of this year than there were closures.

Figures just released by consultancies PwC and the Local Data Company show that in Britain’s largest 500 town centres, 102 shop-front estate agency offices were opened in the first six months of 2016.

Some 76 were closed, leaving a net increase of 26.

The new openings figure of 102 was the second highest of the 12 sectors investigated by the consultancies - only more fashion clothing shops were opened.

The survey of 66,401 outlets found that overall volumes of shop closures have plummeted from a record 7,749 in the first half of 2010 - at the depth of the downturn - to 4,809 in the first half of this year.

However, PwC says the high street may still be ‘in trouble’ as consumer habits change.

"We are seeing far fewer closures due to outright insolvencies, but more due to lower key restructuring of store portfolios. This is still having a negative impact particularly on the high street - interestingly, units on retail parks are far easier to find alternative tenants for” explains Mike Jervis, a PwC insolvency partner.

“The data covers the first half of 2016. Since then there has been more evidence of stress in certain parts of the retail sector as costs challenges begin to crystallise. These include foreign exchange rates, Living Wage pressures and business rates increases” he adds.

In the first six months of 2016, 2,656 shops closed on high streets, a rate of 15 stores a day; this is a slight increase on the 14 stores a day reported to have closed in the first six months of 2015. However, the number of new openings has also fallen, leading to a net 503 stores disappearing from high streets, retail parks and shopping centres in the first half of 2016.

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