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Online shoppers in the Highlands and Islands are having to pay exorbitant charges to deliver to the region, according to a report to the Scottish Parliament.
It found the Highlands & Islands is the worst impacted region in Scotland with an estimated £30.2 million in delivery surcharges.
Argyll and Bute pays out an estimated £3.2 million more in delivery charges than customers in the rest of the UK.
Scots as a whole were left around £43.1 million out of pocket compared to the rest of the UK.
Across Scotland, delivery charges have increased an estimated £6.7m in the past three years, according to the report.
The charges have created a postcode lottery for many, with rural communities often charged more than other areas.
The report said the numbers used gave a ‘broad indication of the possible cost’ to Scotland, rather than a precise estimation.
Maree Todd, MSP for the Highlands & Islands, said: ‘It is very disappointing that people in the Highlands & Islands are having to fork out more than others in Scotland just because of where they live. Despite efforts from MSPs, the charges continue to sky-rocket.
‘During the Covid-19 pandemic many of us have relied on online shopping in one way or another and we should not have to be punished purely on postcode alone – it will really hit hard-working families this Christmas.
‘Now, more than ever, delivery charges across the UK should be fair and transparent, and people should have the information they need to make informed choices.’
The report also reveals that since 2010, the high street in Scotland has seen an 11 per cent decline in ‘physical retail enterprises’ – nearly double the UK decline of six per cent.
The report said: ‘The retail sector is in crisis, according to the Centre for Retail Research.
‘The impact of Covid-19 restrictions have exacerbated retail’s existing problems. These included high costs (rents, labour, business rates), low profitability (heavy price competition), and losing sales to online shopping.
‘These problems are felt by most businesses operating from physical stores in high streets, shopping centres or neighbourhoods.’
Worst places for delivery charges
Inverness and Nairn (£7.8 million, 18% of total cost to Scotland)
Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch (£6.7 million, 16% of total cost to Scotland)
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross (£5.2 million, 12% of total cost to Scotland).