Capital feels pinch as 29 shops go to wall in ‘difficult trading year’

ToysRus has been one of the more high profile retail casualties in recent months. Picture: TSPL
ToysRus has been one of the more high profile retail casualties in recent months. Picture: TSPL
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MORE than five stores a week are closing on the Scottish high street with “no town immune” from the carnage, a hard-hitting report reveals.

A total of 290 stores shut up shop across Scotland in 2017, a rate of 5.5 per week, according to research for accountancy giant PwC, which also suggests that the country is suffering more than other parts of the UK.

Around 29 were in Edinburgh alone.

Glasgow had the highest overall number of stores lost with 53 more shops closing than opening last year, and Aberdeen had 16.

There were 142 openings overall last year, but the net loss of 148 stores is up by about a third from the 112 recorded in 2016 and no location has bucked the trend.

While 3,303 stores were in business at the start of 2017, that total had fallen to 3,155 by the end of the year, which also suggests that the country is suffering more than other parts of the UK.

Clothes shops led the closure list, with a 25.5 per cent drop, followed by travel agents (17.2 per cent), banks and other financial institutions (14.4 per cent) and shoe shops (8.5 per cent).

Food outlets had the highest increases in net store numbers with Chinese takeaways rising by 50 per cent, cafes and tearooms by 28.6 per cent and restaurants and bars by eight per cent, illustrating the changing nature of the high street towards dining and leisure activities.

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 per cent 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.”

“Online trading continues to be a significant factor in this shifting landscape – and not just in familiar areas such as fashion, food, books and music.”

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “These figures demonstrate just how challenging and volatile times are just now for Scotland’s retail industry, as evidenced by several casualties of late on our high streets.

“Retailers are having to contend with profound changes in shopping habits, squeezed consumers and spiralling government-imposed costs. These figures should serve as a wake-up call to government, with a far greater focus brought to bear on reducing the costs of doing business from retail premises.”

Labour’s economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP said small businesses are “the lifeblood of local communities.”

“To see such extensive closures of high street shops is not just deeply troubling, it is economically damaging,” she said.

The PwC research was compiled by the Local Data company (LDC).

Senior relationship manager with the LDC, Lucy Stainton, said: “There is of course no doubting that we are experiencing a period of great change in retail.”

scott.reid@jpress.co.uk