There was a rise in the number of store closures in Scotland in the first half of this year, according to new research.

Figures gathered by the Local Data Company for PwC showed 203 outlets shut down - while 116 opened.

In the first half of 2015, there were 140 store closures, while 95 opened for business.

Falkirk was the only town or city in Scotland which saw more shops opening than closing in the first half of 2016.

The margin was tight, however, with four stores opening and three closing.

Edinburgh saw a highest net change, with the loss of 46 outlets, compared with the same period last year.

PwC said many of the closures in the capital had resulted from companies merging branches and closing two units to move into a larger outlet.

Men's clothing shops, banks and mobile phone stores were among the biggest high street casualties.

Car dealers, cafes and tobacco and e-cigarette shops were the big risers.

'Spending crucial'

By the end of June, 3,114 stores were in business in Scotland - 87 fewer than in January.

The Scottish net change of -2.7% was the highest in UK, which recorded an average of -0.8%.

Lindsay Gardiner, from PwC in Scotland, said: "While Falkirk may buck the trend - as has happened previously - it is still very tight for the local economy, making a case of cautious celebration for the area.

"As this data covers the first half of 2016, the full ramifications of the EU referendum vote are not realised but we have seen hints of challenges - like foreign exchange rates, living wage pressures and business rate increases - in certain parts of the Scottish retail sector as costs challenges begin to materialise.

"These can be managed provided revenue is maintained - so consumer spending will be crucial in the coming months."

Source: BBC

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