High streets facing drastic change, says PwC report
Scotland's high streets are facing drastic change because of pressure from online sales and changing consumer habits, according to a new report.
A study by professional services firm PwC found an average of six high street chain stores closed every week across Scotland last year.
The figure was similar to 2013's but fewer new stores took their place.
Overall, a net 66 shops disappeared from Scotland's high streets over the course of the year.
The research found that mobile phone shops, bank branches and fashion stores were among those hardest hit.
PwC said high streets were transforming as consumers increasingly adopted newer digital channels, mobile technologies and smartphone apps, adding that retailers were now favouring "clicks over bricks".
Bruce Cartwright, head of business recovery services at PwC in Scotland, said: "The Scottish high street continues its drastic overhaul in response to the advance of online sales and changing consumer demand, with last year's numbers exposing the harsh impact of 'macro' changes on the high street, especially in certain sub-sectors.
"Regulation has blindsided the money shops, the advance of technology has hammered some phone operators and the internet continues to dent the clothing sector.
"Despite the Scottish economy reflecting healthy, sustainable growth during 2014 and into 2015, the net loss of shops has accelerated.
"The insolvencies of Phones4U, Blockbuster, Albemarle & Bond and La Senza - a diverse cross-section of the retail market - epitomise these factors."
He added: "Despite the continuing problem of closures, new sub-sectors - such as discount shops and charity shops - keep growing.
"The strength of the restaurant and fast-food sectors is also a boost for the high street."