Claims by BBC Scotland that shop closures north of the border are the worst in the whole of the UK, have been questioned by online site Wings Over Scotland.
The popular website, run by Stuart Campbell, challenged the BBC news reports after examining the report on which the claims were based.
According to BBC Scotland, shops on Scotland’s highstreets closed at a faster rate than in any other part of the UK last year.
The story featured across the range of BBC Scotland platforms throughout Wednesday, including the flagship TV news programme Reporting Scotland.
The story also featured in repeated news bulletins on Radio Scotland and was the subject of an online article on the BBC Scotland website.
However, according to Wings Over Scotland, the PWC report on which the BBC Scotland claims were based didn’t show Scotland as the worst performing area at all, but showed Scotland roughly in the middle.
Stuart Campbell wrote: “In the table published by PWC listing the nine administrative regions of England plus Scotland and Wales, Scotland actually came bang in the middle – sixth out of 11.
“The East of England, Greater London, NW England, SE England, SW England and Yorkshire & Humber all suffered higher net losses than Scotland’s 148 – as the BBC website pointed out in a separate article about the same report in its Business section.”
Campbell added: “But of course not all the regions are the same size, so a fairer measure would be to calculate the figures per head of population. By that criterion Greater London was still the worst of all, losing one store for every 24,327 people compared to Scotland’s one for every 36,518 citizens.
“Ranked per capita, Scotland is only the SEVENTH-worst (or put another way, the fifth-best) of the 11 areas.”
Campbell then highlighted a BBC Scotland article that showed the claim was based on net percentages, with Scotland apparently the highest in Britain at 4.5%.
A representative of PWC appeared on Good Morning Scotland earlier that day and appeared to confirm the percentage claim. Speaking to GMS presenter Gillian Marles, Susannah Simpson of PWC said “When you look, Scotland is obviously the highest percentage drop this year.”
However it wasn’t clear if the PWC spokesperson was repeating the BBC Scotland line or if the calculation had already been independently verified by PWC and subsequently supplied to BBC Scotland.
On the percentage claim, the Wings Over Scotland editor said: “But those percentages don’t appear anywhere in PWC’s press release. There’s no link anywhere on the company’s website to any data tables confirming those numbers.
“So we don’t know if they’re even true (we’ve contacted the company and await a reply) and either way PWC clearly don’t consider that to be a significant aspect of the story.”
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