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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Branch closures - 135 fewer independent agency offices

New figures from the British Independent Retailers Association suggest that there are now 135 fewer independent estate agency branches than at the start of the year.

This accounts for 1.63 per cent of the total of independent agency branches.

That total makes estate agency the sector that has suffered most during the period under review - the first six months of 2018 - with a net fall of 135. Newsagents suffered a net fall of 132 outlets, followed by women’s clothing shops and fashion clothing shops (down 124 and 115 respectively) and hairdressers (seeing a net fall of 106).

The figures - compiled for BIRA by the Local Data Company, and based on a total of 310,080 offices across a range of retail sectors - do not indicate whether the estate agency closures were because of market pressures, acquisitions by larger firms, or cost-cutting moves from high street premises to serviced offices.

Earlier this month the Local Data Company produced separate figures - covering corporate companies as well as independents - showing that 211 estate agency office closures during the same period.

It appears, therefore, that the bulk of those closures were offices of independent agencies, reflected in the latest data.

“There’s no doubt that 2018 has already shown itself to be a particularly transformative year for the UK retail market. The shake-up across the physical landscape is impacting chains and independents alike” explains Lucy Stanton, senior relationship manager at the Local Data Company.

“Businesses in all corners of the industry are having to look very closely at their current model and assess its relevance in an era of unprecedented consumer change” she adds.

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, says: “The recent Budget announcements regarding a rates reduction and the setting up of a High Street fund are very welcome and we hope it’s not too late to provide a lifeline to these important businesses.”

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