STORE openings are finally outstripping high street closures but with banks, fashion retailers and jewellers being replaced by betting shops, discount chains and cheque cashing outlets.

Three Scottish stores a day closed in the first six months of 2013, with more than three times as many pulling down the shutters than the same period last year.

However, accountancy company PwC says "it's not all doom and gloom", with the number of new stores plugging the gap accelerating at an even faster pace.

Research compiled for PwC has found almost four times as many stores have opened in 2013 than 2012, with Edinburgh now having 39 additional outlets than this time last year and Glasgow an extra 48.

But the replacements reflect the continuing austerity, with pawnbrokers, pound shops, bookmakers and cheque cash centres opening at the expense of shoe shops and women's clothing stores.

Yesterday discount store Poundworld announced the opening of two more branches in Glasgow, creating 60 jobs.

Other booming businesses include coffee shops, fast food takeaways and hairdressers.

However, one independent retail source described as "laughable" the attempt to describe the changing face of the high street as a positive development.

Meanwhile, Professor Leigh Sparks, of Stirling University's marketing and retail division, said it was not solely down to the financially straitened times but also to overcapacity of retail outlets and the growth of online shopping.

The professor also said the way to long-term survival of regional town centres was to increase the number of people within them via approaches such as increasing residential accommodation.

He said: "This shows the market is in a flux and there is big high street churn. One question is, to what extent are a lot of these openings short term? Is this the new reality or will people get fed up with it when we come out of this period?

"This is also not entirely austerity related. There is structural change going on. We have de-centralised retail, built more and more shops but not closed many. We have been building too many. Places and people need to come together to energise town centres."

According to the report, compiled by the Local Data Company, 564 stores closed in first half of 2013, with the study of eight Scottish town centres showing a net gain of 102 stores. This compares to the same period last year, where there was a 10% net reduction.

Caroline Roxburgh, head of private business at PwC in Scotland, said: "The Scottish retail sector has been able to tell a much more positive story in 2013 than in previous years, with reports emerging of year-on-year increases in retail sale figures.

"The shifts in the multiple store retailers we are seeing on our high streets are a barometer for changes in our society and its habits. Openings in areas such as cheque cashing and pawnbrokers reflects a society where a sizeable part of the population is forced to turn to these types of borrowing for basic needs. More convenience shops have opened as multiple grocers seek ways to increase further their market share."

A spokesman for Greaves Sports, an independent Glasgow retailer, said: "The spin put on this report would be amusing if it was not attempting to cover such a sad and serious picture. The report seems to suggest the blow of losing so much of the high street is somehow cushioned by an influx of betting shops, discount stores, takeaway joints and cheque cashing businesses. It is not."

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber Of Commerce, said: "Glasgow city centre has continued to perform well this year, with a number of high profile store openings, including a number coming to the city for the first time."