Is the High Street seeing its Phoenix? –  The butcher, the baker et al are on the increase  and coming back with the real experience, not virtual.  A sample of 30,000 independent stores and shops illustrated the hairdressers and beauticians taking a lead, with pubs, sandwich bars and fashion shops in ‘retreat’ amongst a cost-conscious economy.

The hokey-cokey economy shrank by less than previously thought between April and June according to revised data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with the economy contracting by 0.5% during the quarter, which was less than the 0.7% it announced last month, and output in the construction sector higher than previously estimated.  With fewer sellers ‘putting their homes up for sale and the ongoing problem of accessing affordable finance’  not helping, cited RICS,  house prices have continued to slip lower every month for two years  – whilst average rents at the national level  have increased by 4.3% over the past year and are expected to increase by 2% and 3.9% over the next 6 and 12 months.

Consultation to amend the Estate Agents Act 1979 has now ended.  The Department of Business Innovation & Skills proposal relates to passive businesses offering limited low-risk services as being outside the Act and intentions new business models. However,  it would appear that few in the industry were made aware of this beyond stakeholders and the Office of Fair Trading is preparing guidance for estate agents.

The Student Accommodation Accreditation Scheme, announced last year, aims to encourage good practice among landlords in the privately rented sector and can lead to discounts for landlords’ insurance policies and recognition to landlords whose properties achieve the agreed standards to the benchmarks set. The scheme covers properties with up to 14 occupants throughout the UK. Students are paying an average weekly bill of almost £70 this Autumn,  with figures showing some paying more than £100.

Over £50m will be put towards delivering 1400 student rooms for the University of Essex in a mix of existing and new accommodation via Aviva Commercial Finance Limited,  with a futher £36.5m being put towards new accommodation at the University of Reading.

Following the introduction in 2005 by the Department of Health, to introduce four exemptions to the control of entry test for Pharmacies, the same department  has now declared its intention to abolish some 100-hour Pharmacy exemptions.  With effect from 1 September 2012, a new Pharmacy will be exempt from 3 out of 4 requirements to demonstrate a genuine need prior to opening.

Regulator,  the FSA, has named its Head of Enforcement – Tracey McDermott – the person to impose the £59.5m fine on Barclays over the Libor scandal and the record retail fine of £10.5m on HSBC for inappropriate investment advice. As the pace of change quickens, the FSA is considering stiffer rules for high-frequency trading firms after a series of technological glitches and, according to the FSA, because it may be overly-complex and high-risk for individuals other than sophisticated investors  –  one broker lost £440m in the space of 45 minutes of high-speed trading; crowd-funding risks have also been highlighted.

Despite excessive charges and ‘complex’ or ‘unfair’ business accounts, according to YouGov SixthSense Banking Report,  small business is “too busy” to switch their provider.  The complaints, disappointments and challenges negotiating loan amounts aren’t sufficient to inspire ditching the inertia…….

Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012