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18/08/2014

Shop vacancy rates pose major problem for Scottish high streets

Words: Roger Milne
Scottish high street (c) Kenneth Allen

About 70 per cent of vacant shops in a third of Scotland’s cities and towns have remained empty for more than a year, according to a report.

Scotland: Retailing in the Top 100 Cities and Towns (pdf) found that Inverness has the highest vacancy rate of all Scottish cities at 18 per cent – while small towns such as Banff and Huntly have vacancy rates in excess of 30 per cent.

This snapshot of Scotland’s town centres, published by The Local Data Company, The Institute for Retail Studies and The University of Stirling, has called for a “local approach” to deal with the problem of empty shops in specific areas.

Across Scotland, 14.5 per cent of shops are currently lying empty, the report found – with more than 40 per cent of that space having been vacant for more than a year. In a third of towns and cities, 70 per cent of vacant shops have been without a tenant for more than 12 months.

While Inverness has the highest vacancy rate, Glasgow and Dundee have struggled most since the onset of the recession in 2008, the report said.

Edinburgh, which has been comparatively buoyant throughout the recession, currently has the lowest vacancy rate of all cities in Scotland at just 12.5 per cent.

Retail experts have suggested that the empty shops should be put to different use – such as a higher proportion of office and leisure facilities – in a bid to generate demand in the retail market and help Scotland’s town centres thrive.

Image: Copyright Kenneth Allen

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