Scotland business

Scottish shop vacancy rate 'bucks UK trend'

Closed shop Image copyright Richard Sutcliffe
Image caption Scotland's shop vacancy rate has improved significantly in the past year, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium

The number of empty shops in Scotland's town centres fell last month in contrast with the UK as a whole, according to a survey.

Scotland's shop vacancy rate dropped by 0.9% in July to 7.5% - the second lowest of any area.

The figures bucked the trend for the UK, which saw its rate rise by 0.5% to 10.1%.

Scotland's vacancy level was 10.6% just a year ago, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).

However, the picture was less positive last month in terms of footfall north of the border.

The latest SRC/Springboard monitor found fewer people visited Scottish shops for the second month in a row.

Footfall fell by 1.9%, following a 3.3% drop in June.

Image copyright Thinkstock

SRC director David Lonsdale said: "These results are something of a mixed bag for Scotland's retail industry, with a welcome reduction in the shop premises vacancy rate unfortunately coupled with shopper footfall flagging once again.

"Indeed shopper footfall in stores dipped for a second successive month and at a faster rate than the average over the past three months, pointing to a continuing fragility in demand and the ongoing popularity of online retailing.

"The second quarterly improvement in a row in the vacancy rate is encouraging, though it remains to be seen whether this reflects units being taken up on a temporary or more sustained basis."

Marketing director for retail analyst Springboard, Diane Wehrle, said: "The April to June quarter can prove irregular, as typically post-Christmas pop ups and temporary stores disappear from the high street.

"Across the UK it seems that the EU referendum and political and economic uncertainty of the last quarter will have deterred some retailers from taking on leases but Scotland appears to have been insulated from this."

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