Research finds Scotland’s retail vacancy rate falling faster than GB trend – but there are huge differences between towns
THE number of empty shops in Scotland fell in 2014, according to a new report, which shows the gap between retail vacancy rates in Scotland and the rest of Great Britain is narrowing.
Scotland’s average retail vacancy rate fell from 14.5% to 13.7% during the past year, according to research published last month by the University of Stirling’s Institute for Retail Studies and The Local Data Company.
While the overall improvement brings Scotland much closer to the GB average of 13.3%, there are huge variations among cities and towns, with some of the areas with the highest levels of vacancy remaining more or less unchanged for three years.
East Kilbride has the highest vacancy rate of all Scottish towns at 33%, with Inverurie continuing to have the lowest rate at 1%. Dundee has the highest proportion of persistent vacancy at 11%.
Vacancy rates in Banff, Dumbarton, Cumbernauld, East Kilbride and Ardrossan have remained above 22% over the last three years.
Both Banff and Ardrossan were identified in the study as “requiring attention” to address specific issues that meant their situations were unlikely to improve, as were Inverkiething, Lochgelly, Kinross, Huntly, Dalkeith, Carluke, Penicuik, Musselburgh, Bellshill and Fort William.
Professor Leigh Sparks, one of the report’s authors, said: “Retail vacancy has turned the corner and is declining. This is not, however, true in all towns.
“There remain towns where vacancy has been high and is increasing. There is still a large amount of surplus property in many towns and it is unlikely that all of this property will return to retail uses.”