The Covid-19 pandemic has left almost half of over-50s lacking confidence to go out shopping, a new study shows.

National volunteering charity, the Royal Voluntary Service, found that 49 per cent of the 249 Scots surveyed had concerns about visiting stores.

Some 35 per cent of respondents said they were not comfortable visiting friends, whilst 62 per cent feel less confident to eat out and 63 per cent are worried about using public transport.

It comes as the latest monthly figures published by the Scottish Retail Consortium show a "painfully slow and protracted" retail recovery.

The retail sales value for August was down by 7.5 per cent on the same month of last year.

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: “Six months on from the start of the pandemic and the revival of retail is proving painfully slow and protracted. 

READ MORE: Scottish retail recovery ‘painfully slow and protracted’, industry body warns

There has also been an increase in the number of people experiencing loneliness, according to the Royal Voluntary Service's survey.

Three in ten respondents who live alone said they have spent too long on their own and just over one in five said they feel lonely and isolated – more than three times the figure for those living with others.

Sam Ward, director of services and deputy chief executive at Royal Voluntary Service, said: “With life still on hold for so many, people’s mental and physical wellbeing are suffering.

“Royal Voluntary Service is working in communities to reach those at risk, providing services that really matter, that build confidence and resilience and that ensure social interaction, either virtually or in person.

“We deliver emergency food packs, essential groceries and prescriptions, make companionship calls, drive people to urgent medical appointments and settle patients back home after a stay in hospital.”

She added: “Our online activity programme, the Virtual Village Hall, is also helping people keep active and interested.

“Our services have never been in such high demand and we would be profoundly grateful for donations so that we can support even more people that need us.”

READ MORE: The Scottish Household Survey: Most Scots say they can rely on their neighbours

Actress Dame Penelope Wilton, who is supporting the charity, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives, knocking people’s confidence and leaving many struggling to cope.

“Royal Voluntary Service has been a vital lifeline for so many vulnerable people throughout this crisis, and its work is far from over.

“A donation to support its work would be hugely appreciated.”

The charity has released a new film highlighting the work it is doing to support the most vulnerable people during the pandemic.

Derek, who features in the video, said: “I knew all about coronavirus but I didn’t expect to catch it myself.

“When I got back from hospital, I was so exhausted, I was all alone and isolation was really starting to take its toll.”

He added: “Life was very difficult so Royal Voluntary Service organised for Alex, a young volunteer, to call me regularly to check how I was doing.

“We hit it off straight away and she’s made such a difference to my life, she’s really kept me going.

“I’m well enough now for Alex to visit me, at a distance of course, so now we can chat in person. I really enjoy that.”