£2.4bn in lost sales

One in seven shops empty as rates decision due

empty shops in Glasgow

More shops stand empty (pic: Terry Murden)

One in every seven retail premises now stands empty in Scotland as the shop vacancy rate spiked to its highest level in five years.

In the third quarter of 2020 it rose from 12.9% in the second quarter to 14%.

Across Britain the vacancy rate increased from 12.4% to 13.2%. This was the ninth consecutive quarter of increasing vacancy rates, from Q2 2018.

Shopping centres fared the worst among retail sites due to the higher proportion of fashion outlets, where consumer demand has been hit hardest.

In Scotland shopping Centre vacancies increased from 15.8% to 16.8%. On the high street, vacancies increased from 12.4% to 13.5% while retail park vacancies increased from 9.5% to 10.4%.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Many shops were shuttered for long stretches during this period to aid the fight against the pandemic, and there seems little likelihood of the cumulative lost shop sales of £2.4 billion being recouped.

“The clock is ticking down towards the Finance Secretary’s expected Scottish Budget in a few weeks’ time, and these figures lend urgency to the need for an early announcement on avoiding next Spring’s ‘reverse cliff edge’ when 100% of business rates are set to be re-instated.”

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