As the political parties add the finishing touches to their manifestos ahead of the Scottish Parliament Election in May, the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) is urging politicians to include measures to stop the continuing decline of our high streets and secure the future of local shops. The call comes as a report by the Local Data Company shows an increase in vacancy rates across the UK.
Scotland recorded the lowest rate of vacant shop space in the UK. However, empty retail stock figures remain high at 12.6 per cent, a slight rise on the 12 per cent UK average recorded in 2009.
John Drummond, Chief Executive of the SGF said:
“The number of empty shops continues to increase in most centres and the situation may get worse in 2011.
“High streets are under threat from reduced investment, poorly applied planning rules and aggressive supermarkets expansion.
“In too many examples across Scotland supermarkets are poorly planned, too big, and located away from the existing centres, meaning that they destroy choice and close down high streets.
“Politicians need to think creatively how they can redress the balance and incentivise retailers to locate in town centres.
“SGF is keen to work with the politicians to protect the future of the high street because this continuing level of decline cannot be ignored.”