Scotland business

Scottish retailers ''worried' by rise in vacant shop rate

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Scottish retailers have expressed concern after figures showed the highest number of empty shops in nearly two years.

A Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) report indicated that Scotland's shop vacancy rate rose from 9% in January to 9.2% last month.

The rate remained slightly lower than the UK average.

But SRC described April's figure as a "modest but nonetheless worrying increase".

SRC head of policy Ewan MacDonald-Russell said: "In itself that movement is not hugely significant, but with several other economic indicators in Scotland also raising concerns, policymakers should pay close attention to the measures they take which affect retail premises - especially the upcoming Barclay review of business rates."

Footfall 'up'

However, there was better news for the high streets on footfall last month.

SRC reported a 3.2% increase in the number of shoppers - the fastest growth rate seen in Scotland since July 2014.

Footfall grew strongly on the high streets and in retail parks, but fell in shopping centres.

Diane Wehrle, from retail analyst Springboard, said shopper numbers had been boosted by Easter falling in April, as opposed to March last year.

She added that footfall generally had been fuelled by the weakened pound, which had driven an increase in overseas tourists and in Easter "staycations" by domestic visitors.

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