Independent estate agents are being hit hardest by the trading crisis on the UK’s high streets as online agents continue to persuade sellers and buyers to transact online, a report has revealed.
Last year 284 independent high street estate agents closed their doors, a drop of 3.4% overall making it the sector with the highest number of closures followed by newsagents, women’s clothing, fashion, delis and hairdressers.
According to the latest report from the Local Data Company (LD) and the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), the closures were concentrated in Yorkshire & The Humber, the East Midlands, the North East and Scotland.
The report examined over 313,000 high street and shopping centre-based businesses across the UK.
And agents who grumble that high streets are increasingly places where people eat rather than shop are also borne out by the figures, which show a 75% increase in the number of restaurants, cafes and entertainment-based businesses during 2018.
Estate agents looking for greater footfall might consider moving to shopping centres and retail parks, where the LDC data suggests most of the growth in the UK is taking place.
“Business rates continue to be a huge burden on independent retail businesses,” says Anrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira.
“On top of this parking in town centres is reduced and often very expensive, there is poor infrastructure and there has been a lack of local authority vision and investment.
“We will continue to fight to level the playing field for retail as a whole and allow bricks and mortar retailers the chance to compete with online.”