Number of retailers closing their doors rising

Collapsed department store McEwens of Perth is one of the highest profile Scottish retail failures of 2016

The retail sector is continuing to shrink with new figures showing that a Scottish shop will close its doors for the final time every single day.

New research from PwC and the The Local Data Company found that 203 retail outlets shut up shop in the first half of this year.

The figure is considerably higher than the 140 store closures reported in the same period last year.

At 116 openings, new ventures did partially offset closures in the first six months of the year but the trend remained downward.

The figures show that in total there was 3114 retail businesses registered in Scotland at the end of June, down from the 3201 in January.

The trend across the UK as a whole is also downward, with 2,656 shops closing their doors in the first half of the year, a rate of more than 15 per day.

Matthew Hopkinson, director of The Local Data Company, said the place the traditional bricks and mortar store held in society was changing,

“The role of the store continues to evolve,” he said,

“Provision of a seamless on and offline experience is key. Click and collect is but one example of this.

“Chains are having to work harder than ever to guarantee store location, format and experience along with a strong web presence, social presence and logistical operation that delivers to consumers’ ever increasing demands of ‘now’.

“This is severely impacting profitability and hastens store closures.”

Regional figures show Dundee had 16 closures and seven openings in the first half of 2016, leaving the city with a total store base of 229.

Perth saw 12 stores close and eight open, leaving it with a total of 162 shops.

Edinburgh had the biggest Scottish decline with a net loss of 46 stores.

“Between them, Dundee and Perth have 13 less retail outlets than they did at the start of the year and while other areas have been more significantly impacted, that will still give some pause for thought,” said Susie Simpson, partner and business lead for PwC Dundee.

“On the upside, some retailers are still choosing to open and expand in the region, perhaps buoyed up by the regeneration of certain key areas including the Dundee waterfront where the passing shopper could not fail to be impressed by the speed of growth in the V&A building and train station development.

“It is the optimism sparked by these types of wider developments which can cement the demand for bricks and mortar retail outlets in addition to the move to digital offerings.”