The Economy and Fair Work Committee has launched an investigation into the impact of the changing nature of retail and e-commerce on town centres.
The Scottish parliamentary committee will look at the barriers facing high street retailers and explore the extent to which an increase in online shopping has impacted Scotland’s 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.
E-commerce in Scotland – including the implications for businesses of increased online shopping and digital activity, and the role of Scottish SMEs in the e-commerce sector.
A call for public views closes on 16 March.
Claire Baker, convener of the 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 e-commerce and the expansion of retail park alternatives, combined with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to create a difficult trading environment.”
Baker continued that the committee wants to find out how to diversify and grow high street activity, and is 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.”
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