Communities can revive the high street

High street web

Retail conditions may be challenging, but present the chance for communities to take control

11th April 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

An exodus of shops from Scotland’s high streets presents an opportunity for communities to drive forward regeneration.

A report released this week revealed that almost 300 high street stores closed across the country in 2017.

Social Enterprise Scotland has said that communities across Scotland are tackling challenging retail conditions by taking ownership of their towns.

Figures released by the Local Data Company showed there was a net loss of 148 shops in Scotland, with stores most likely to be replaced food outlets, cafes and tearooms.

Glasgow had the highest overall number of stores lost, with 53 more shops closing than opening, followed by Edinburgh on 29 and Aberdeen on 16.

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: "Retailers are having to contend with profound changes in shopping habits, squeezed consumers and spiralling government-imposed costs.

"Responding positively to structural change requires substantial outlays on digital infrastructure, a higher-skilled workforce and revamped logistics capability.”

Duncan Thorp, of Social Enterprise Scotland, said consumer habits, new technologies and corporate out-of-town development meant conditions are challenging, but opportunities are there to revive town centres.

“Many local communities in urban and rural Scotland are tackling these challenges head on and finding genuine, long-term solutions,” he said.

“From community-led regeneration, to development trusts, social housing, community owned land, food co-operatives, renewable energy and Business Improvement Districts, there is much to celebrate.

“The way forward is to boost investment in local social enterprise development and help communities drive forward their own regeneration - learning directly from those parts of Scotland that are doing well.”