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July 8

by Millie Wickens
Hundreds of high street property agents shut up shop data reveals

Estate and letting agents are among the fastest closing businesses on the high street, new data has revealed.

Property businesses lost a net 448 branches in 2018 – placing the sector as the third worst performing in the UK, with around eight branches closing every week.

Banks and building societies lost 716 branches and pubs 636, to take first and second place.

Behind estate and letting agents, the sectors that saw the most businesses shut up shop were discount stores (380) and fashion shops (374), according to a report published on the Local Data Company web site.

The figures are net losses – the number of stores or branches left after adding openings and deducting closures from the previous year’s net total.

The fear in the property industry is that more letting agent closures will follow the tenant fee ban, which came into force on 1 June .

And some large chains, such as Countrywide and Foxtons, have already signalled more closures and job losses could be on the way later this year.

“Property agents have had a notable change in trajectory,” said a spokesman.

“In 2014, we tracked this category as one of the top 20 fastest growing. Now it features as the third fastest declining category due to falling house prices, growing competition from online players and a slowdown in new buyers.

“Falling house prices, political uncertainty, growing competition from online portals such as Purplebricks and a slowdown in new buyers has created a perfect storm of pressure on property agents up and down the country.

The Local Data Company explains that the fate of property agents is a warning for other business sectors.

“This story is particularly noteworthy as it reflects how quickly fates can change for retailers as technologies are developed at an exponential rate, thrusting new competitive forces into the market seemingly out of nowhere,” said the spokesman.

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