Pressures on high-street businesses in Stirling were there for all to see as official figures confirmed that the city lost 600 retail jobs and 53 shops in the seven years to 2015.
The figures from the Scottish Government’s annual business survey show that between 2008 and 2015 the number of local shops fell more than 9 per cent, from 574 to 521.
Over the same period the number of jobs in retail fell by almost 11 per cent, from 5600 to 5000. The period includes the financial crash and the loss of high street chains such as Woolworths, which shut in 2009.
However, the figures do not take account of more recent blows to the city centre such as the loss of BHS, which shut in 2016. Tiso in Murray Place shut in 2017 and closures this year include Toys R Us and Ann Summers, both in the Thistles Centre, and Maplin at Burghmuir Retail Park.
Less footfall, competition and the changing nature of retail have all had an impact on the high-street, and this pace of change will accelerate over the course of the next decade.
However, this does not mean that those in the council should not support our local, hard-working businesses who still have much to offer and perhaps need that helping hand to adapt to transformation which is currently taking place.
Business rate relief is in the control of Stirling Council, and I am repeating my call that they should now step in and give businesses a break.
The fact that Stirling's MSP Bruce Crawford blamed Brexit for these retail job losses, even though the figures refer to between 2008-2015, just shows how complacent the SNP have become about the state of our high-streets.