New research has indicated that there is a split of fortunes on Scotland’s high streets, with some doing much better than others.
The study, carried out by Stirling University and The Local Data Company, found that across the country there was an average vacancy rate of 14.5 percent.
This is slightly ahead of the national average and, in 40 percent of Scottish towns, high vacancy rates have become the norm.
However, it also found that five percent of shopping centres had a vacancy rate of less than five percent.
The research found that a number of factors could cause problems on the high street, with Matthew Hopkinson, a Local Data Company director, saying:
“The squeeze on consumer spend, the significance of out-of-town retailing including supermarkets, and the relentless growth of internet sales are all significant issues for Scotland’s town centres.”
Hopkinson went on to say that developing a balanced economy was key for town centres to answer future development.
Empowering independent traders to be more competitive was also highlighted as being important, with many of those thriving in the current conditions being helped by discounting and invoice factoring.
KPMG’s head of retail, David McCorquodale, agreed with Hopkinson, saying:
“Scottish high streets are polarising between the thriving and the merely surviving. It is vital we pinpoint and tackle the key issues causing these vacancies.”
He went on to warn that there was no quick solution, with the emphasis having to be targeted to evolving to meet changing consumer demand in an online world.