SCOTLAND is losing shops from its high streets faster than anywhere else in the UK, new figures have revealed. 

Business advisers PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)say that the highest number of stores shutting their doors was found north of the border during the first half of the year, with only the east of England coming close. 

The Scottish Retail Consortium have blamed high business rates imposed by the Scottish Government for the poor picture in Scotland, where one in ten retail units now stands empty.

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Herald View: Time to breathe life back in to Scots High Streets

Vacant and boarded up shopfronts have now become a fixture in town centres, with high-profile casualties of challenging economic times Dunnes and Greaves Sports closing their doors in Glasgow this year.

HeraldScotland: Popular sports shop Greaves shut its doors this year

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According to PWC, 90 shops opened between January and June in Scotland, but this was offset by 132 closures - a net loss of 42.

However, this was a lower closure rate than the same period in 2016, indicating that the speed which shops are shutting their doors is slowing down. 

Glasgow and Edinburgh saw the brunt of the shutdowns, with 44 and 37 closures respectively. But there was positive news for Paisley, Dundee and Falkirk where the number of shops increased. 

Shoe shops, lingerie, women’s clothing and charity shops are among those closing their doors, along with banks, estate agents and pubs.

According to the Local data Company, Clydesdale Bank has shut 22 branches in the last 12 months, while Bank of Scotland has seen a decrease of 12  and TSB Bank shut nine.

Women's fashion shop Dorothy Perkins, H&M and Burton Menswear have all closed Scottish stores, as have shoe sellers Clarks, Shoe Zone and Jones the Bootmaker

Outlets taking their placess were said to include pizza takeaways, beauty salons and tea and coffee merchants.

Herald View: Time to breathe life back in to Scots High Streets

Mark Addley, head of restructuring for PwC in Scotland, said: “What we are seeing here is the continuation of a trend from the last few years - that of stores consolidating their high street offerings, going from two or three shops in a location to just one larger presence.

“While Scotland is showing the largest number of net closures, the number is considerably down on previous years, suggesting that the retail chains are through the worst of the pain. 

"Having said that, online shopping is here to stay and that will continue to eat away at the high street’s profits and presence.

He added: “Businesses need to remain cautious. It’s too early to see if there is a growth trend developing  and while some may think there are small signs for optimism we remain in a world of Brexit and interest rates starting to rise.”

HeraldScotland:

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Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Head of Policy, at the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said that the figures were "disappointing but not surprising"

He added: "Regrettably retailers are being forced to take very difficult decisions as they manage the triple challenge of transformational digital change, the squeeze on family finances, and the ongoing impact of public policy. 

"Retailers are being forced to consolidate in these cities since those are the properties most likely to be affected by the much higher Large Business Supplement rate in Scotland. 

"It’s yet another reason why the Finance Secretary should lay out a more ambitious timetable to bring that supplement rate back into parity with the rest of the UK in his Scottish Budget in December.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We recognise that help is needed which is why Scotland’s Town Centre First Principle, together with the range of measures in our Town Centre Action plan, is designed to tackle key issues such as empty shops, and to improve the vibrancy of our town centres.

"We are doing everything within our powers to support our economy, including our retailers. For example, this year we have reduced the business rates poundage by 3.7 per cent and funded total rates relief of around £660 million, including the Small Business Bonus Scheme which will lift 100,000 properties out of rates altogether. 

“We have also gone beyond the recent Barclay Review recommendations with new measures to drive investment. In addition to the growth accelerator, which will mean businesses pay no rates increases for the first year on new and improved properties, we will ensure every new build property does not pay a penny in rates until it is occupied for the first time. Further detail will be confirmed in the Draft Budget next month.”