Empty shop numbers reach seven-year high, figures show

Footfall in Scotland dropped by 5.6 per cent  year-on-year last month, bringing 12 months of consecutive decline. Picture: Michael Gillen
Footfall in Scotland dropped by 5.6 per cent year-on-year last month, bringing 12 months of consecutive decline. Picture: Michael Gillen
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The town centre vacancy rate for Scotland has reached a seven year high but footfall continues to drop, according to retail analysts.

The 11.2 per cent figure recorded for April this year was up on the rate of 9.2 per cent in January 2018.

The Scottish Retail Consortium and Springboard monitor from April 1 to 28 showed it was an “above average vacancy rate” for the UK, which increased to 9.2 per cent last month 2018 from 8.9 per cent in January 2018.

But footfall in Scotland dropped by 5.6 per cent year-on-year last month, bringing 12 months of consecutive decline.

Shopping destinations such as the high street, shopping centres and retail parks fell by 8.5 per cent , 1.8 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively with retailers experiencing tough trading conditions.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), said: “The vacancy rate in Scotland’s town centres has reached a seven-year high, whilst shopper footfall has dwindled for twelve consecutive months.

“This pointed deterioration in both footfall and the shop vacancy rate underlines just how challenging retail market conditions currently are.”

Retailers with a strong “multi-channel” offer have become “adept” at reaching time-constrained consumers.

But many retail business models, the SRC said are being up-ended by changes in shopping habits, new technology and rising costs.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “Much could be made of the adverse impact on April’s footfall of Easter shifting to March, but even looking at March and April together still demonstrates that footfall has dropped.

“This is reflected in a rise in Scotland’s vacancy rate to 11.2 per cent , the highest rate since we started compiling vacancy data in 2011.”