Thursday, May 19, 2022
BusinessHigh street shops sink to a new low six months after lockdown...

High street shops sink to a new low six months after lockdown easing

MORE than one in ten chain shops in Scotland remains closed six months after the lockdown was lifted.

That’s the key finding of research by PwC and the Local Data Company, which found 99 shops had permanently closed.

Retailers who have returned to trading will be hoping for strong festive trading, though in a further challenge import delays and staff shortages risk a Christmas supply crunch.

The research tracked activity across 1,863 Scottish outlets.

Jason Higgs

It shows that the rate of reopening following the June end of the third lockdown period increased by more than five percentage points on the first lockdown.

More than 88% of all chain stores reopened when restrictions were eased.

But almost 5% (99) closed permanently and 6.8% (114) remained closed temporarily.

This was largely as a result of owners deciding the costs related to opening outweighed the potential revenues.

The first lockdown, which began at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, led to 4.6% of all chain stores in Scotland closing permanently, with 12.4% remaining closed temporarily after restrictions were eased.

High streets took the brunt of the permanent and temporary closures, with 5% of all shops on Scotland’s main high streets  closing permanently and a further 8.2% remaining closed temporarily.

Reopening rates were 90.2% at shopping centre stores and 94.2% at retail park outlets.

The data also show that other shops – those on suburban city streets, in smaller towns and villages and transit locations – had a reopening rate of 87.2%, with just 3.1% closing permanently.

The trends in Scotland are reflective of the rest of Great Britain.

Jason Higgs, Head of Retail at PwC Scotland, said: “With the pandemic accelerating the shift to online retail, it’s encouraging to see so many outlets emerge from the third lockdown by opening their tills.

“However, as we enter the crucial festive trading period we may still be influenced by emerging Covid variants, and retailers are facing a Christmas crunch with potential shortages of stock driven by import logjams and staff shortages.”

He added: “Trading costs, from rents to employees to utilities continue to mount up, and for the bigger players, difficult decisions will need to be made over high cost but high revenue flagship stores in city centres.

“The near future will see companies further respond to changing consumer and employee trends and business needs, while discussions between landlords and tenants will have a huge say in how our high streets and shopping centres look – it’s never been more vital that landlords and occupiers negotiate early.”

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