FTSE 100 touches pandemic high





Estate agents signs advertising flats for sale in Kennington, South London.

Estate agents signs advertising flats for sale in Kennington, South London. Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

Cities are attracting more property hunters with demand for flats outstripping that of houses in the autumn, the latest sign that the pandemic-fuelled “race for space” could be waning.

UK property prices hit record levels during the pandemic as factors including the rise of home and flexible working fuelled a buying boom outside cities.

However, as staff returned to offices with flexible and hybrid working patterns through the autumn – prior to the emergence of Omicron – interest in flats has surged.

“When the housing market reopened in May, there was an immediate rush for room from buyers to look farther afield from the capital,” said Tim Bannister, the director of property data at the property portal Rightmove.

“However, in recent months we’ve seen higher demand to live near London, with buyer inquiries returning towards pre-pandemic levels. This is happening quicker than some will have anticipated, and is likely driven by many businesses encouraging a hybrid, rather than fully remote working model.”

Rightmove said that flats have become the most in-demand property type among prospective buyers, supplanting the popularity of houses throughout the pandemic.

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FTSE 100 inches towards pandemic high









Selfridges sale one more chapter in luxury brand’s rollercoaster history

The Selfridges deal is the latest instalment of a rollercoaster history for the brand founded by a retail legend, our retail correspondent Sarah Butler writes:

After more than 20 years rising through the ranks of the Marshall Field’s store in Chicago, in 1906 the US entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge arrived in the UK with one intention: to found a great department store.

By some accounts, he was tempted to the UK by Liverpudlian Samuel J Waring Jr, who had built up a string of furnishings stores in London and wanted someone to run a neighbouring shop to his new Waring and Gillow outlet on Oxford Street.

It was initially intended to be called Selfridge-Waring store, but Selfridge took control when his partner hit financial difficulties and the new store opened in March 1909 under his name alone.

From the start, Selfridge embraced retail theatre and was determined his store would be “a civic centre, where friends can meet and buying is only a secondary consideration”. On the opening day, which drew enormous crowds, the store dazzled shoppers with live music, abundant floral displays and copious lighting in its airy halls.

Selfridges of Selfridges on Oxford Street in London, 1931.

Selfridges of Selfridges on Oxford Street in London, 1931. Photograph: Selfridges/PA

The store sold a huge range of goods but, out of respect for his early business partner, not food or furnishings. It housed a library, a rest room for ladies, a picture gallery and a restaurant linked to a roof garden.

Selfridges set a new benchmark for UK department stores, ditching the tradition of housing staff above the shop and opting for large modern window displays more akin to advertising than the practice of piling up as many goods as possible.

When the store was awarded one of English Heritage’s blue plaques in 2003, the charity said: “It is largely thanks to Selfridge that Oxford Street remains the commercial heart of the West End.”.

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Selfridges sold to Thai and Austrian groups in £4bn deal



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