The rate of store closures across Scotland's high streets slowed last year, sparking hopes of a return in retail confidence.

Some 302 shops shut in 2013, against 353 the previous year - a 14% drop in outlets pulling down the shutters.

On the other hand, 271 new stores opened, meaning the overall net result last year was a decline of 31 stores, according to figures in PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company.

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It found a "more positive picture" emerged last year, with the net reduction in the number of stores falling by nearly 60% from the 2012 level of 77.

Scotland's retail recovery is ahead of other areas such as the south east England and the East Midlands, which experienced net losses of 65 and 70 stores respectively in 2013.

Caroline Roxburgh, head of private business at PwC in Scotland, said: "After a tough few years for the retail sector, it is encouraging to see the pace of store closures finally slow down.

"It is important to remember that many of these closures have been the result of major UK-wide insolvencies, such as Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster."

Across the UK, closures by multiple retailers - shops with more than five outlets - slowed from 20 stores a day in 2012 to 16 last year.

In Scotland, photographic shops, clothing stores, banks, computer games stores, travel agents and shoe shops were among the hardest hit last year, the figures showed.

Convenience stores, charity shops, three-star hotels, betting shops, cheque cashing and sports good shops bucked the trend by showing growth during the year.