Scottish high street retail jobs ‘fell by 8.6%’ in five years

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A new report from the Office of National Statistics has shown that retail jobs on Scotland’s high streets plummeted by 8.6% over the five-year period from 2012 to 2017.

The ‘High Streets in Great Britain’ report also found that Scotland recorded the second-worst performance on retail jobs of the 11 nations and regions surveyed, after Wales.

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “These disappointing, albeit hardly surprising, figures show just how challenging life is on Scotland’s high streets.

“We have consistently said retail is going through a period of profound change and reinvention as retailers adapt to new technology, changing consumer behaviour, squeezed household finances, and rising costs. Despite all of this we are convinced retailers will continue to have a strong physical presence in thriving and attractive high streets, but less so than is the case now.

Lonsdale blamed government policy for “undoubtedly ratcheting up the cost of employing people in stores and the cost of maintaining a store presence,” which subsequently meant that digital routes to market became more attractive and affordable to retailers.

“This is upending many retail business models,” he continued, “and means the industry will look very different in the future.

“With the business poundage rate at a 20-year high and with 5,000 Scottish retail premises paying more for the large firms’ supplement than their English counterparts, firm action is needed from both government and councils to cut the cost of doing business.”