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Edinburgh tram

Retail in Scotland

Scotland’s retail landscape is as diverse as it is dynamic.

The retail industry is the largest private employer in Scotland. There are over 23,000 outlets, which provide over a quarter of a million retail jobs. The importance of retail to Scotland can be seen by the £26.9 billion generated in 2014. That’s 20% of the country’s total GDP. 

Scotland is a well-connected country, with easy access to Europe and beyond. As a result, Scotland's tourism industry is booming, leading to an ever increasing number of international consumers in major cities.

Cities key to success

Scotland’s seven main cities contribute over £2.2 billion in annual ‘traditional’ retail revenue.

These cities have opened their doors to many international retailers. The vast majority of the Scottish population lives within an hour drive of these seven key cities. 

The combined retail demand of consumers within these catchments exceeds those outside. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Perth have the highest proportions of premium retailers, though all four cities can boast a diverse range of retail venues, offering something for all kinds of demographics.

Buchanan Street Glasgow
Edinburgh at night

Premium retail in Edinburgh

Famed for its literary tradition, education and festivals, Scotland’s capital is not only a centre for culture, it's also one of the UK’s leading premium retail destinations.

With the busiest retail street in Scotland (Princes Street), Edinburgh is very much established as a premier shopping destination. 

Over 10% of all Edinburgh's outlets can be classified as ‘premium’, making Edinburgh the largest premium retail centre in the UK, outside of London. This is no surprise with renowned brands such as Ferrari, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Gucci and Kenzo having successfully opened outlets within the city.

Premium retail in Glasgow

A diverse mix of entertainment and retail, Glasgow is the UK’s fourth most attractive shopping destination.

With over 2.7 million people located within less than an hour’s drive, it’s easy to see why so many retailers choose to locate in Glasgow. The premium retail offering in the city is also well served in Princes Square, a key high-end fashion destination which is the home of brands such as Vivienne Westwood, French Connection and Ted Baker, or by taking a walk along Ingram Street which is host to Armani, Mulberry and Ralph Lauren outlets.

Glasgow shops

Our support

Our role is to make investing, setting up and succeeding in Scotland as easy as possible.

In the last four years alone, we've supported companies to invest over £330 million in capital expenditure to build new hotels and resorts, and to refurbish existing buildings. 

These investments also introduced new business and leisure tourists to Scotland.

We can help you with:

  • Finding the right location – including sites and deals not available on the open market
  • Identifying partners, investors, developers and operators
  • Market intelligence and key performance statistics
  • Liaising with local authorities and Scotland’s government bodies to help project completion
  • An after-care package for inward investments to help business development, such as marketing support, market research, PR services, investment advice and specialised training


We connect you to the right people and resources to help your business thrive.

International Sector Head - Graeme White

We have offices in 20 countries, staffed by teams who can talk you through Scotland’s capabilities and the funding support that may be available to you.

Tell us a bit about your business and a specialist from your region or sector will get back to you.

Get in touch with us