In a bid to save Scotland’s “struggling” high streets, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) is calling on the region’s MSPs to take action on challenges faced by local retailers.
Outlined in a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy and Fair Work Committee, the organisation has established five priorities it suggested the government should take to help town and city centres respond to the changing economic climate and the aftermath of the pandemic.
Commenting on the submission, David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said there was an irrevocable change in Scottish towns and city centres over the past five years, which requires a “fresh approach” if they were to recover.
Lonsdale added: “Ultimately, the current approach does not do enough to encourage customers to visit many centres, nor for businesses to invest. A step change is needed which changes those incentives.”
Key areas highlighted by the SRC include working on high street structural challenges that hamper economic growth, reframing the policy landscape for town centres through decluttering, creating a long term approach to accessible infrastructural planning and the implementation of strong local leadership.
Additionally, the SRC also noted that areas “remain burdened by high business rates bills”, in which high street stores face higher rates than equivalent properties in England. The organisation has asked parliament to raise the property rate supplement to fall in line with England and support businesses in recovering from the impact of covid.
Lonsdale concluded: “Scotland’s cities and towns have enormous potential, but action is needed if many aren’t to fade away in the coming years under the pressure of new economic models.”