KIRKCALDY, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Shoppers walk through Kirkcaldy High Street in the constituency of British Prime minister Gordon Brown on February 15, 2010 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it is expected that that the economy, immigration, the NHS and education are likely to form the basis of many of the debates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) is demanding change from the next government, as it is revealed that retail jobs across the country were waning at a staggering rate even before the pandemic.

With an upcoming Holyrood election on 6 May, Scottish retailers are demanding a retail reform, as “the industry hits the very apex of the current retail revolution”, according to SRC director, David Lonsdale.

The SRC revealed in its retail manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections that, between the years of 2016 and 2018, 13,000 jobs were lost across Scottish retail – a trend that can be seen internationally.

Advertisement

Additionally, the SRC’s 34-page manifesto said that £3.48 billion in annual turnover was lost from the industry between 2014 and 2018.

Once 2020 figures are added into the equation, the organisation believes the picture will look considerably worse than it already does.

Some of the SRC’s key recommendations to the next Scottish Government include: implementing a Scottish retail strategy; a policy moratorium for one year after the suppression of the Covid-19 virus to allow businesses to recover; introducing the most competitive business tax system in the UK; and income and council tax policies which do not increase the cost of living for ordinary consumers.

The manifesto also cited the need for a collaborative approach with retail to tackle climate change.

SRC director, David Lonsdale, commented: “This Holyrood election comes as the industry hits the very apex of the current retail revolution. Covid has accelerated the existing trends in retail: including driving customers towards digital, weakened demand, and put retailers under unparalleled pressure.

“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.

“The next Scottish Government and MSPs will have to respond to this reality. A more coherent approach to the industry led by a retail strategy which protects ordinary consumers and provides a competitive tax system will provide a framework that can help retail to recover.

“The choices made by the next Parliament come at a pivotal moment for the industry and it’s 230,000 workers.

“The right reforms will let retail evolve to play a vital role in the road to economic recovery after Covid.

“Conversely, if the opportunity is lost then there could be severe consequences for businesses and communities across Scotland.”