BARBER shops are becoming an unlikely lifeline for Scotland’s high streets as men admit having their hair cut is the main reason for visiting town centres.

New research has found that 90 per cent of Scots males still go to their local high street for a trim with the younger generation going at least once a fortnight.

Online shopping, the growth of out of town retail outlets, and the global economic crisis have all had a detrimental effect on cities and town centres.

But, according to the figures, the number of barber shops has increased dramatically and are helping to kick-start a revival of town centres as men will visit other outlets during their trip.

Now business experts are welcoming the barber shop figures as any rise in visitors to town centres can have a positive effect on other outlets.

Leigh Sparks, Professor of Retail Studies at Stirling University said: “There has definitely been a rise in the number of barber shops. They have relatively low start-up costs and are seeing increased demand, particularly from the younger demographic.

“They are heavily influenced by footballers and far more image conscious as they were so take good care of their appearances which means regular visits to the barbers and clothes shops.” Stuart Mackinnon, spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, said: “While household budgets might be tight, people still need to get their haircut. While they’re in town getting a trim, they might pick up some shopping or get a bite to eat.“However, the health of our high streets isn’t a fringe issue. We need big businesses and the public sector to get behind our town centres.”

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy at the Scottish Retail Consortium, added: “Hard-pressed high street retailers will welcome the news that style conscious shoppers are being attracted into town in order to keep current with the latest trends.

“Hopefully once the hair is sorted they’ll be tempted to pop into the shops to get the accessories and clothing to match.”

Almost one-fifth of men admit to making fortnightly trips to the barbers and socialise with like-minded regulars, while nine per cent see their barber once a week.

While in the town centre, 74 per cent will visit the pub while more than half, (56 per cent) will stop at a restaurant or coffee shop, according to the figures produced by grooming brand The Bluebeards Revenge.

It comes as Scotland is losing shops from its high streets faster than anywhere else in the UK.

According to recent figures from business adviser PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) significantly more stores closed than opened in Scotland during the first half of the year.

PwC says 90 shops opened between January and June in Scotland, but this was offset by 132 closures – a net loss of 42.

However, this was a lower closure rate than the same period in 2016, indicating that the speed at which shops are shutting down is slowing.

Shoe shops, lingerie, women’s clothing and charity shops are among the casualties, along with banks and estate agents.

The survey by grooming brand The Bluebeards Revenge found only 14 per cent of men surveyed now visit the high street on a daily basis, 19 per cent make the trip once a week and 25 per cent go once a fortnight.

Daniel Smith, 58, owns a Barber Shop in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, said: “We are as busy as ever and always welcoming new customers. Until a computer can cut someone’s hair and give them a professional service then I think barber shops will still be in business on the high street.”

Keith Conniford, chief executive of the Hair & Barber Council, said: “It’s great to see the hairdressing and barbering industry thriving in today’s difficult economic environment.”