Nearly one in six retail premises in Scotland are lying empty as vacancy rates have increased by nearly a quarter in the past year, figures show.

The vacancy rate for the second quarter of 2021 was 16.1%, a new six-year high and up by 3.2 percentage points on the same period last year, statistics from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) show.

Across the board, empty-shop figures escalated from the first quarter of this year, in shopping centres, retail parks and on the high street.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Scotland’s shop vacancy rate escalated further in the second quarter, with almost one in every six retail premises now lying empty.

“The vacancy rate stood at a new six-year high, up by a quarter over the past year, and it is far from clear that it has reached its apogee.

“The fallout from the pandemic and government restrictions continues to exert a heavy toll on many of Scotland’s retail destinations.

“Retailers and shopping destinations are clearly going to have to work even harder to attract custom, through a blend of improvements to service, experience, pricing, and promotions.”

He called on policymakers to introduce measures to “bring energy and footfall back into our city centres and retail destinations”.

Overall, the retail vacancy rate in Scotland in the first quarter of this year stood at 15.3%.

From quarter one to two, shopping centre vacancies increased from 20.1% to 21.5%, while on the high street vacancies increased from 13.9% to 14.5% and in retail parks the figure rose from 12.9% to 14.1%, the figures show.