Supporting the retail sector

Encouraging fair work and improving skills.

Improving staff skills and working conditions are key parts of a newly published strategy to support retailers.

Getting the Right Change: A Retail Strategy for Scotland outlines how the Scottish Government, business leaders and trade unions can work together to unlock opportunities to grow businesses and the economy, improve wellbeing and address inequality, and support progress towards our ambitious climate change targets.

Actions outlined include:

  • developing and promoting a Fair Work Agreement that retailers can voluntarily sign up to, to improve fair work conditions across the sector and contribute to reduction of in-work poverty
  • working with Skills Development Scotland and other partners on a Skills Audit and Action Plan, to support retail reskilling or upskilling as jobs change, for example due to technology like self-scan checkouts and online ordering systems
  • developing a Just Transition Plan for Retail to protect jobs and contribute to net zero emissions by 2045 through developing local supply chains, reuse of materials and sustainable travel choices by staff and customers
  • promoting town and city centres and local businesses while supporting ways to repurpose vacant retail units
  • harnessing opportunities in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation that will directly support the retail sector, like actions to grow businesses, boost productivity and support entrepreneurship

A new Industry Leadership Group will be established to drive delivery of the retail strategy, co-chaired by Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur.

Mr Arthur said:

“As we have seen during the pandemic, our retailers have played and continue to play a vital role in creatively supporting our communities.

“Our retail strategy sets out actions to support the sector to rebuild from the effects of the pandemic, address longer-term challenges and maximise opportunities to fulfil its potential. It has been developed in collaboration with business, trade unions, academia and the public sector.

“It builds on the National Strategy for Economic Transformation and Covid Recovery Strategy – setting out a shared vision for retail to achieve inclusive economic growth and play its part in creating a fairer, greener Scotland.

“The retail strategy builds on the strengths of the sector – so that it is successful, resilient, sustainable and profitable to the benefit of all of Scotland.

“We want to support innovation and entrepreneurship, and seize opportunities from new technology and markets, to boost productivity and grow businesses.

“In this way, our retailers can benefit from and contribute to the bold programme of actions that will transform our economy over the next decade.”

Chairman of the Scottish Retail Consortium John Brodie MBE said:

“Scotland’s retailers have shown tremendous fortitude and resilience to come through the tribulations of the past few years, a period of profound transformation for the industry which was accelerated by the Covid pandemic. The Scottish Retail Consortium is delighted to have partnered with government to develop this strategy which recognises the enormous economic and social contribution that retailers make and outlines a shared approach to sustainably grow the industry.

“Retail is Scotland’s largest private sector employer and this more strategic and collaborative approach to supporting and nurturing the growth of the industry should help it flourish and fulfil its potential over the decade ahead. This will benefit retailers and the millions of customers they serve in Scotland, as well as the supply chain and broader economic ecosystem that retail touches, and help drive forward Scotland’s economy.”


Read the Retail Strategy in full here

Read Mr Arthur's statement to the Scottish Parliament

Retail is the largest private sector employer in Scotland, comprising more than 15,500 businesses employing more than 240,000 people - including a high proportion of women and young people.

The Leadership Group will include retail business and trade union representatives.


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