finance

Scotland sees higher number of shop closures than England



The number of shops in Scotland has declined over the past year, in contrast with those in England

Analysis by law firm Nockolds revealed that Scotland suffered a decline of 0.9% in the number of shops, while south of the border, the number of high street shops has increased by 1.3%.

The retail sector performed best in London, where the number of shops increased by 4%, from 39,940 to 41,545.

Meanwhile, the number of e-commerce retailers jumped by 13.4% over the same period, from 42,770 to 48,505.

James Griffiths, a partner at Nockolds, said that differences in the survival of retail businesses partly reflect variations in lockdowns.

“Restrictions on the retail trade tended to be more severe outside England, which has clearly seen retailers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland harder hit.

“Many non-essential retailers leaned heavily on click-and-collect services during lockdown, but these services were banned in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

He added that many high street retailers have been on life support for the past 18 months an without government backing they would have collapsed.

“There are undoubtedly many zombie businesses on the high street, staggering forward, but unable to pay off their debts to commercial landlords.

“Next spring will be crunch time, as business rates relief ends and landlords make decisions on whether occupiers should be evicted or wound up.”

The British Property Federation estimated that total rent unpaid for UK commercial property between late March 2020 and the end of June 2021 stood at £7bn.

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