The report entitled ‘Road to Retail Recovery’ also found that £3.48bn in annual turnover was lost from the industry between 2014-18; figures which are likely to “severely worsen” when the full account of 2020 is reported.
To tackle the decline in traditional retail the SRC has outlined recommendations to the Scottish government ahead of the Holyrood election scheduled for 6 May – with the group calling for a policy moratorium for one year after the suppression of the Covid-19 virus to “allow businesses to recover”.
David Lonsdale, director at SRC has said the Holyrood election comes as the industry hits the “very apex of the current retail revolution”, stating that Covid has “accelerated the existing trends in retail” including “driving customers towards digital, weakened demand, and put retailers under unparalleled pressure”.
He added: “Last year saw the worst ever retail sales figures, a six year peak in shop vacancies, and shopper footfall slump by a third; which comes off the back of three years which saw 13,000 retail jobs lost, and a £3.48 billion reduction in annual turnover since 2014.
“Retail was already in a difficult position before 2020 and Covid, with ever high property and people costs combining with complex, intrusive, and often contradictory policies exacerbating weak economic growth.”