In good health
City centre doing well
A study which suggests Perth city centre is down by 13 shops on last year has been branded inaccurate by Perth and Kinross Council.
The report, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and The Local Data Company, was released this week and claimed there were 152 businesses based in the Fair City’s town centre units at the end of 2017, down on the 165 operating when the year started - a trend it identified across Scotland.
However the survey, which has been reported in a number of national newspapers this week, does not match PKC’s city centre occupancy figures.
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson confirmed: “In 2017, Perth city centre saw 24 new businesses open, alongside 23 closures.
“To date in 2018, we have already seen seven new businesses open, with three businesses closing.
“There are a further three more businesses new to Perth opening in the coming months, including BrewDog and Vito’s Italian restaurant.
“The current vacancy rate for the city centre is 8.02 per cent, lower than the national rate for Scotland, which as of January 2018 was 11.9 per cent.
“The reasons for decisions to close businesses can vary, however as a council we continue to work to encourage firms to consider establishing a presence in Perth, which helps to maintain the varied retail mix the city has to offer for both residents and visitors.”
High-profile companies like Oliver Bonas and Beales were amongst the firms to move to Perth, with popular eateries Gringos and Crunch Munch establishing themselves in the Fair City.
Susannah Simpson, private business partner of study conductors PwC, did concede Perth has a lot going for it: “Perth is by no means Dundee’s poor cousin.
“Exciting plans to create a new leisure hub at Mill Quarter in the heart of the city with a mix of bars, restaurants, shops and a cinema will bring a welcome economic boost and hopefully encourage further investment across the region in 2018 and beyond.
“It is the optimism sparked by these types of wider developments which can cement the demand for bricks and mortar retail outlets in addition to the move to digital offerings.”
City centre councillor Andrew Parrott said: “The retail environment is very difficult with the still growing impact of internet shopping leading to a changing mix of businesses on the High St.
“You can’t get a cup of coffee or a haircut on the internet.
“But I believe Perth is doing better than most places in Scotland.
“I am a keen participant of the meetings of the Perth Traders Association and will always do all I can to help the independent businesses that mark Perth out as a retail destination.
“Earlier this year I was in conversation in the city centre with a couple who had come from Aberdeen because they enjoy the shopping environment in Perth.”