New figures released to Estate Agent Today show that a net total of 284 agents’ offices closed down in 2018.
This number - which represents 3.4 per cent of all agents’ offices across Britain - means estate agency is the single most badly-affected retail sector seeing branch closures last year according to the Local Data Company.
When measured in net closure numbers, agency was followed by newsagents (262 closures), women’s clothing (215), fashion shops (156), delicatessens (138), hairdressers (136), Indian restaurants (122), florists (121), second hand shops (107) and butchers (97).
Major estate agencies announcing closures in recent months - some more recently than those included in LDC’s 2018 figures - include Foxtons and LSL Property Services; Countrywide is also believed to have made a significant number of branch closures.
Ironically the agency industry closures come despite the LDC’s figures for 2018 being more upbeat than for the previous year when looking at the High Street overall.
The analysis, which reviews changes across more than 313,000 businesses across Great Britain also found that overall, independent retailers opened 4.5 per cent more shops in 2018 than in 2017.
This number was offset by a record number of stores closing (35,524) which led to an overall net decline of 1,013 shops.
However, this was better than the decline of 1,483 shops in 2017.
The Local Data Company says business rates continued to be “a huge burden” while parking in town centres has been reduced and has often become very expensive. The monitor say there is poor infrastructure in many retail centres and “there has been a lack of local authority vision and investment.”
“2018 saw many well-known brands exit the high street and rationalise estates of bricks and mortar stores. A by-product of this activity was a plethora of units in prime locations coming into the market, which agile entrepreneurs have been quick to reoccupy” according to LDC spokeswoman Lucy Stainton.