More than five closures a week on Scottish high streets

11 April 2018, 07:21

empty shops

Closures on Scottish high streets have risen to more than five a week, new figures show.

A total of 290 high street stores shut up shop across Scotland in 2017, a rate of 5.5 per week.

There were 142 openings, but the net loss of 148 is up 32% from 112 in 2016 and no town has bucked the trend, PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company found.

PwC said 2017 was one of the "toughest trading periods in years".

The Scottish net change of -4.48% is the highest in Britain, which has an average net change of -2.57%.

Across Britain, the closure rate is 16 stores a day.

In Scotland, clothes shops led the closure list, at 25.5% drop, followed by travel agents (17.2%), banks and financial institutions (14.4%) and shoe shops (8.5%).

Food outlets had the highest increases in net store numbers with Chinese takeaways rising by 50%, cafes and tearooms by 28.6% and restaurants and bars by 8%.

Glasgow had the highest overall number stores lost with 53 more shops closing than opening, followed by Edinburgh on 29 and Aberdeen on 16.

Lindsay Gardiner, regional chair for PwC in Scotland, said: "2017 has proved to be one of the toughest trading periods Scottish retailers have experienced in years - borne out by a 32% rise in store closures with high street names such as Twenty One going into liquidation and others such as New Look and Prezzo closing outlets.

"And so far this year, there's been little sign of this pressure letting up with the 'Beast from the East' and ongoing cold snaps taking their toll alongside other adverse business factors."

She said online trading continues to be a "significant factor" in the changes, not only in areas such as fashion, food, books and music but also increasingly for banks, travel companies and estate agents.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Brexit is the biggest threat facing the Scottish economy, and these figures clearly underline that threat.

"We are doing a huge amount to support businesses in Scotland, including retailers - we provide the most competitive rates relief in the UK, and our Small Business Bonus Scheme alone has saved smaller firms £1.5 billion."