Scottish Daily Mail

Why more Scots shut up their shops

- By Rachel Watson

SHOPS on Scotland’s high streets are closing at a faster rate than those elsewhere in the UK because of ‘sluggish demand’ and ‘rising costs’.

The vacancy rate in town centres is 9.2 per cent compared with 8.9 per cent in England and Wales, figures show.

Footfall in high streets, shopping centres and retail parks dropped in the past year to the lowest levels since 2013.

Scottish Tory economy spokesman Dean Lockhart said: ‘SNP anti-business policies are still doing damage. Stores need all the help they can get, not an SNP Government determined to hammer them with higher taxes.’

The Springboar­d Footfall and Vacancies Monitor shows the vacancy rate north of the Border has fallen from 10.5 per cent in the past four months, but footfall fell by 4.6 per cent year on year.

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: ‘The better vacancy rate was aided by pop-ups and temporary lets deployed in the lead-up to Christmas, while footfall tumbled at a faster rate than over the past quarter and year as a whole, no doubt explained in part by snow and icy conditions deterring shoppers.’

He said it was ‘a time of sluggish demand and rising costs’, adding that economic changes show few signs of abating’.

The Scottish Government said it was doing ‘everything within our power to support the economy’, adding: ‘Our Draft Budget will more than double spending on economic growth.’

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