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Scotland's high streets suffer as e-commerce thrives

12 July 2011 - 10:13 by Mike Price

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The UK's high street retailers are in a state of crisis, but it is in Scotland where the pinch is being felt more than anywhere else, with the convenience and security of safe shopping online sapping sales from bricks and mortar chains.

According to The Scotsman, the year so far has seen a decline in high street stores north of the border, with 161 outlets shutting up shop for good. In the first six months of 2011 around 130 stores have opened, but this has not closed the gap sufficiently to offset the closures.

When compared with England's south-west this figure looks bleak, because in this area there was actually a real terms rise of 48 shops opening during the same period.

Even large cities like Edinburgh and Dundee have seen established stores slipping into oblivion, largely because they cannot hope to compete with e-commerce rivals which can offer safe shopping online at a lower price.

There are still areas of growth on the high street, with retailers like Co-Op and Greggs the Bakers managing to increase their footprint in Scotland over the first half of the year.

Statistics from PwC suggest that the impact of the recent recession combined with the government cuts are causing many more people in Scotland and the rest of the UK to fire up their computers whenever they want to go shopping, just because they can expect to spend less than they might at the local high street.

Around 10 per cent of all sales in Scotland are made online and PwC's Sara Miller, said that this is likely to increase over the coming months. As such, she expects to see an indefinite reduction in the number of high street outlets which are available for Scottish consumers.