Lochaber and Skye pay the highest delivery surcharges in Scotland and the figure is even higher than it was thought, according to a new report.

Previously it was estimated that residents were paying around £6.3 million-a-year in excess charges, but the figure was re-calculated using a different data set by independent researchers and is now believed to be in excess of £9million.

Inverness and Nairn were the second worst affected areas with residents forced to fork out £8.5 million annually to receive packages bought online.

The Highlands and Islands pay almost £40 million of the £45 million annual charges for the whole of Scotland.

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Kate Forbes, Constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, described the figures as a "scandal" and issued a fresh appeal to the UK Government to act.

She said the Scottish Government would have fixed the problem "if it was in our powers".Many UK firms simply refuse to deliver to the region.

HeraldScotland:

A report by the financial scrutinty unit SPICEe found a "substantial" shift to online shopping has had a range of policy implications for Scottish consumers including those disadvantaged by digital connectivity issues, parcel surcharges, late delivery or those refused delivery altogether when they try to buy goods online.

Despite the slowing of online retail trends linked to the lifting of pandemic restrictions, analysts say the early signs suggest online buying behaviour may stick.

Data from the ONS show that 87% of all UK adults now shop online and this increases to 99% for those aged 25-34.

HeraldScotland:

Over the last 12 years, the number of UK adults shopping online has increased by 34%. 

Kate Forbes MSP said: “The scandal of retailers charging over £9 million to customers in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has never looked like such a rip-off.

“That means that customers who purchase goods online, especially with the surge in sales during the pandemic, have paid over the odds and lined the pockets of retailers and delivery firms who think nothing of over-charging Highland consumers.

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“It is, and always has been, an absolute disgrace and it is long overdue for the UK Government to act.

“If the Scottish Government had the powers to do something about surcharges, they would have long ago and it’s about time the UK Government lifted a finger about this.

“More than £9 million across Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch could have been spent in the local economy and made an enormous difference

A UK Government spokeswoman  said: “The Royal Mail provides a universal parcel service at a standard price throughout the United Kingdom thanks to legislation the UK government put in place in 2011.

"All businesses must show clear and upfront delivery charges so customers can shop elsewhere if charges are excessive. 

“We are working closely with consumer groups to assess what more can be done to protect remote communities.”