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Written by rosalind renshaw

Ah ha! This could be time for estate agents to get their own back on Mary Portas.

This week, she of the orange hair came up with her critique of high streets.

In a nutshell – let’s not waste a double page spread on this – cheaper car parking, lower rates, more markets, fewer shops, more caffs and entertainment. Oh, and town centre committees. (When in doubt, a new committee is always a good idea.)

It occurs to us that as most agents work on them, they’re in a much better position than most to advise the prime minister as to what’s wrong with high streets and what should happen to them.

We all know that it’s a question of use them or lose them. And estate agents, along with charity shops, are often perceived as part of the high street problem.

So, are Britain’s high streets worth saving? And if so, how would YOU go about it? Are high streets still the places for agents to be? Or is it time to stop flogging dead horses and do all our shopping at out-of-town centres like Westfield, for which Portas just happens to be a consultant?

You may remember how nice, empathetic, caring and only-too-happy to listen Mary Portas was when she tried to, er, assist the estate agency industry not too long ago.

The link, together with all 97 comments, may jog your memory.



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    I think where Portas is coming from is that she wants to see the High Street as a 'social' thing as much as a 'retail' thing. Somewhere to go to meet people and socialise, whilst buying the shopping, the joint for the Sunday roast, that lightbulb that's blown and the other bits n bobs we need generally.

    It's a community thing.

    And maybe this is where agents could get involved and give opinion. Agents creating a sense of community, being involved with the locals, making new contacts, building their own brand awareness.....

    • 17 January 2012 09:30 AM
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    Rant, you got a point or did you cut and paste from the wrong story mate?

    • 16 December 2011 15:51 PM
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    Most EAs can't dress properly, heck, since houses stopped selling themselves most EAs have been exposed as cluelss, talentless numpties; they're certainly not qualified to advise on how to improve the high street.

    • 16 December 2011 15:08 PM
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    The more we embrace technology the more we shift online to 'virtual' high streets. Last year's online Xmas sales beat the high street!

    Stores are closing so it's about finding incentives to bring back the shoppers. Free parking, markets cafes & entertainment may well be a good start.

    As agents we know our business could very well be done 100% online and this could be our future so I'm not sure our input is relevant here. That said, at least Portas is trying to do something about it. Why not save the sarcastic journalism until after you've see her results?

    • 16 December 2011 14:54 PM
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    Had the privilige of passing through High Wycombe recently. There were 9 estate / letting agents on one street. NINE!

    Given their proximity to London, the properties in their window displays had some eye-watering prices. I presumed the rest of the town would reflect that economic optimism and dynamism. Instead I found a few pizza and kebab takeaways, a betting shop, a fruit machine casino thing, a Wetherspoon pub and a lot of sorry-looking and rundown other stores. Might as well have been walking round Grimsby.

    • 16 December 2011 11:43 AM
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    Mary Portas is the same old Duchess that did the programme on EA’s and decided that they needed to know more about the property they were selling……….not exactly a stroke of inspired genius and I think we should all ignore the daft bint and accept that many retailers are simply horrid and many are very nice / good

    On one hand I want to see vibrant busy high streets creating and sustaining employment and all that then on another Mrs Jonnie has done all the Christmas shopping on line this year and every day a man in a van has rocked up at my house with another big box of stuff because id rather push bees into my eyes that get dragged around a shopping centre, where its always to hot, the kids (mine especially) are a pain and asking Mrs Jonnie if I can leave it to her, swerve the whole thing and find a pub is on the same level as asking her if its okay to sleep with her sister / totally out of the question.

    The next thing might be a big out of town EA? – imagine that huge great unit all very sexy covering a massive area, departments and teams specialising in particular areas and property types etc, EA’s can bin off the little provincial premises and move everyone into the big one, loads of parking, high footfall – imagine saying to a vendor ‘our branch is between Toys R us and Currys on the retail park’

    Of course it won’t help the empty shop thing, but maybe its just what progress looks like?


    • 16 December 2011 11:30 AM
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    Yes, http://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/solicitors-urged-to-join-portas-drive-to-save-the-high-street-with-the-co-op-set-for-massive-expansion

    • 16 December 2011 10:44 AM
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    I have done most of my Christmas Shopping online again this year.

    I thought I would pop down my High Street yesterday to get a few bits and pieces and ended up coming back empty handed.

    No massive crowds putting me off, just rubbish shops selling tat, racing for the bottom, every one of them trying to sell cheap crap for the lowest possible price.

    The Primark mentality...?

    (Which might be a bit unfair to Primark - their white work shirts have sustained me through the credit crunch...)

    There is nothing of any quality there, but then I suppose, for Mr & Mrs Average they would prefer to buy/ give/ receive LOTS of crap stuff rather than one or two nice things.

    That certainly seems to be the way my kids want it, Quantity over Quality.

    Such a shame.

    I suppose it is the same with the way the general public perceives estate agents {-(

    • 16 December 2011 10:40 AM
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    I can only speak about my local high street which is wacky (5 shops selling magic wands - no that's not an euphemism - and witches hats, another 5 selling crystals (?), almost everyone selling some form of candle) but crucially no empty shops!

    There are too many estate agents/charity shops and business rates are to high and there isn't a plan (I bet the Germans have a plan for every one of their high streets) and councils should never have been allowed to charge for parking.

    Mismanagement seems to be a bit of a theme in this country at the moment. Where has the British bulldog fighting spirit gone?

    • 16 December 2011 09:19 AM
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    There's no going back for the high street. Presumably that's why Portas works for a giant out of town shopping mall. Our high street is tumbleweed every day, empty shops, empty flats over them, ten estate agents all with very little footfall, several pizza take-aways and a couple of not very nice clubs that fill up only on Friday and Saturday nights. Do agents need to be on the high street? Only because all our competitors are here. And it's expensive!

    • 16 December 2011 09:11 AM