The high street is at serious risk unless action is taken now by the UK and Scottish governments to help mitigate the many threats to retailers’ livelihoods, the Scottish Retail Consortium has warned.
Chairman Andrew Murphy, who is also group productivity director at John Lewis, told The Scotsman that he believes a retail decline would be felt “particularly keenly” north of the Border.
He was speaking after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) published its Retail 2020 report, which found that the national living wage, projected increases in rates plus the apprenticeship levy could add expenses of £14 billion to the UK sector in the next four years, equal to about 20 per cent of industry profitability.
Looking at Scotland specifically, it cited its projected decline in store numbers for 2012 to 2018 of 23 per cent.
Murphy said: “Our industry has begun to change through a number of different dimensions. Governments’ awareness of that and how their policy decisions can be helpful or unhelpful has begun to degrade, so the report really is a way of putting a line under that and saying, ‘here’s a holistic view of what’s happening in our industry and… what we feel you need to be aware of’.
“The change in our industry is going to be so profound that you really need to start thinking about this now,” he said, adding that retailers currently face “so many dimensions of change that pausing to stop and focus on any one thing is very difficult”.