Stores data

Hospitality rebounds sharply as more outlets open

St Andrew Square cafe
Cafes and takeaway outlets are doing well, according to new data

Hospitality outlets defied the gloomy mood to record a sharp rebound in openings last year, according to new data.

Five of the top seven opening categories were in the hospitality sector, with takeaways, food-to-go, cafés, coffee shops and restaurants flourishing in 2023.

A partner for the co-compiler PwC said the resurgence in the hospitality sector demonstrates that “café culture is going nowhere.”

Also among the top opening categories were supermarkets and petrol stations, with the latter benefiting from a growing demand for EV charging stations.

The data from PwC and LDC shows that fewer retail stores closed in Scotland than the average across Britain.

Three stores closed each day in Scotland in 2023, with two opening. Over the year 1,069 stores north of the border closed their doors, while 732 were opened – a net loss of 337 shops and outlets.

The overall 2.1% reduction in 2023 is about a third higher than the 2022 rate of 1.4%, but remains lower than the period between 2017 and 2021 (when closures peaked at a rate of 4.1% in 2021) during a difficult period for retailers. It is also marginally lower than the Great Britain average of 2.3%.

Ross Marshall, partner at PwC Scotland, said: “Our research shows that, despite the continuing annual reduction of stores across Scotland, there is a willingness from business to invest in physical outlets, with two new stores opening per day for every three closed throughout 2023.

“It demonstrates the continuing evolution of our high streets, retail parks and shopping centres with a real shift towards out of town and retail park locations and a resurgence in the hospitality sector – demonstrating that ‘café culture’ is going nowhere.

“Across Scotland in the last few months alone, a variety of new eateries and bars have opened their doors, and entrepreneurs are making the most of the franchise model to bring big names to key Scottish locations. 

“This willingness to invest in bricks and mortar for shoppers is encouraging – especially given that PwC research shows the majority of those aged 35 and under prefer in-person experiences, and that consumers generally believe that stores beat online when it comes to customer service and after-sales service.” 

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