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Shop closures ‘accelerate’ in Scotland’s high streets

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The decline has been put down to the growth in online shopping and a shift to ‘in-home leisure’, PwC said.

Shopping in Glasgow

There has been an “acceleration” in the number of retail shops closing across Scotland’s high streets, according to a report.

The decline has been put down to the growth in online shopping and a shift to “in-home leisure”, PwC said.

In the first half of 2018 there were 58 new store openings in Scotland’s main cities and towns, but 107 closures, figures from the Local Data Company (LDC) show.

In Scotland, nine towns and cities were evaluated in the study, with Aberdeen faring worst with 22 stores closing and only two opening in the first six months of 2018.

In Edinburgh there was a net reduction of 13 stores and in Glasgow 11, to 992 and 887 respectively.

The rate of closures in Scotland was better than the UK as a whole, which saw a net 1,123 stores disappear from the top 500 high streets.

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Mark Addley, head of restructuring for PwC in Scotland, said: “Our analysis reveals a retail map which is continuing to change beyond recognition from a generation ago.

“The convenience of online shopping is making its mark on the high street, and we expect this will lead to retailers having to re-evaluate the purpose of their bricks-and-mortar operations.

“The number of high-profile retail casualties in 2018 has made headline news, while the volume of distressed businesses this year has led to a spike in company voluntary arrangements (CVAs).

“While these measures can help alleviate short-term distress, they are not a viable long-term solution unless there is a fundamental change to the business model.

“The intensity of the current retail climate, which is being felt across Scotland’s towns and cities, highlights that restructuring and new investment are required, but so are new ways of thinking.

“Retailers of all sizes will be hoping for a strong festive trading period, but we must bear in mind that the peak time period for new CVA announcements is the first quarter of the new year, so we should brace for more high street closures in the coming months.”

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