Worrying signs for Scottish shops

By Gary Armstrong

One shop a day was forced to close down in Scotland in 2016, more than in any other part of the UK.

A total of 366 stores closed last year, while just 254 opened.

Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) shows the rate of closures in Scotland almost doubles that of the rest of Britain.

And there is no sign of a reverse in the trend, according to industry experts.

Sasha Armstrong, Associate for retail management company Workman LLP said: “There’s certainly no new retailers coming to the market at the moment.

“The likes of Pep and Co, who opened across Scotland last year, are already closing half of their stores because it hasn’t really worked.

“Forever 21 on Buchanan Street closed last year, yet on its opening day, it took in £250k worth of sales. This perhaps shows the novelty of new stores coming to Scotland quickly wears off.

“They took a really prime High Street unit, hoping they would get the initial footfall and then it would grow.”

Some areas of the country have been harder-hit than others with Leith (10.53%) and Ayr (8.3%) recording the most significant rates of closure against the previous 12 months.

Meanwhile, Falkirk is swimming against the worrying tide, down just 0.78% on 2015.

And Miss Armstrong believes retail in town centres has particularly suffered, as a result of the large attraction of regional shopping centres, such as Silverburn and Braehead.

She added: “There’s a move away from the traditional high street and more into shopping centres and retail and leisure destinations.

“When you think about Scotland there are a lot of towns with High Streets whereas you can drive to Silverburn and get free parking and the trend is going to follow in that way.”

However, Miss Armstrong believes there is encouragement to be taken from the growth of leisure and food uses in Scotland, particularly in Glasgow City Centre and the surrounding area.

She said: “Looking at Glasgow in the last few years, the leisure market seems to be trending more.

“Taking Shawlands for example, lots of new space is being acquired but that tends to be taken up by food and leisure retailers as opposed to clothes shops.

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