Scotland business

PwC: 'Five shops closing per week' on high streets

Store closure Image copyright Getty Images

More than five shops closed per week on Scotland's high streets in the first six months of the year, according to new research.

A total of 140 outlets shut in the nation's main shopping areas, compared with 107 in the same period last year.

However, the number of new store openings also rose - climbing from 58 to 86 - giving a net loss of 54 shops.

Online retail, the impact of business rates and Brexit uncertainty were cited as reasons behind the closures.

The research, compiled for PwC by the Local Data Company, looked at eight of Scotland's largest towns and cities.

Closure count

Glasgow saw 46 closures offset by 34 openings, while Edinburgh saw 37 closures and 20 new openings.

In Aberdeen, 20 outlets closed and 13 opened, and the figure for Perth was 12 and seven, respectively.

Falkirk lost three stores with no new openings over the six-month period, while in Paisley 10 shops closed and four opened. In Ayr there were also four openings, against eight closures.

Dundee was the only city without a net loss of shops - with four units closing and the same number of new openings.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption PwC said coffee shops were among businesses to grow their presence on the high street this year

Jason Higgs, from PwC in Scotland, said convenience stores, coffee shops, bars and fast food restaurants had all grown their presence on the high street in the past six months, although the casual dining sector was being hit as a result of consumers watching their spending.

He added: "Going out for dinner is one of the first luxuries to go, and that has been reflected in the number of large restaurant chains facing challenges."

'Holding pattern'

Meanwhile, new retail sales figures for Scotland showed a 0.2% decrease in August, compared with the same month last year.

Food sales increased, but the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said customers remained unwilling to commit to expensive purchases.

SRC head of policy Ewan MacDonald-Russell said: "Scottish retail sales were stuck in a holding pattern in August as the continued squeeze on consumer spending and political uncertainty continued.

"There were some bright moments in the month where the rare bursts of sunshine encouraged sales of outdoor food and drinks, but that was offset by weak non-food sales.

"Retailers will therefore be looking forward cautiously to the autumn."

More on this story