Inquiry into the future of town centres and the impact of a changing retail sector launched by MSPs

Claire Baker MSP Convener of the Economy and Fair Work Committee

THE FUTURE of Scotland’s town centres, and how the changing nature of retail and ecommerce has impacted them, is to be investigated by the Economy and Fair Work Committee.

The Parliamentary Committee is looking to identify the current challenges for high streets, and the barriers to their success, and to explore the extent to which an increasing use of ecommerce is impacting on Scotland’s town centres.  It aims to propose action needed to support modern and thriving town centres.

The Committee’s inquiry has three areas of focus:

  • Keeping town centres alive – including how they have changed over recent years, their strengths and weaknesses, and who or what can drive positive change in Scottish town centres.
  • The new realities of Scottish retail – including how this sector has evolved over the last decade, the impact of these changes on town centres and what role fiscal policy levers should have in supporting this sector.
  • Ecommerce in Scotland – including the implications for businesses of increased online shopping and digital activity, and the role of Scottish SMEs in the ecommerce sector.

 Speaking as the inquiry was launched, Claire Baker MSP, Convener of the Economy and Fair Work Committee said:

“Scotland’s town centres have traditionally been the heartbeat of our communities bringing people together to live, work, shop and socialise. However, traditional town centres are under pressure and under threat, with too many shops closing and too many high streets dominated by ‘to let’ signs.”

“Changing retail trends, including the growth in ecommerce and the expansion of retail park alternatives, combined with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to create a difficult trading environment.”

The Convener continued: 

“We want to find out how to diversify and grow high street activity, and are particularly keen to hear from businesses and members of the public on what makes a successful and thriving town centre.

“Our inquiry is seeking to bring forward recommendations to demonstrate how Scotland’s town centres can thrive in this post pandemic world, and be vibrant, resilient and accessible places which meet the economic, social and environmental needs of our communities.”

You can give your views here:

The call for views closes on 16th March.

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