A TOWN centre expert has urged Scots to buy local when shopping for last-minute Christmas gifts.

The success of Scotland’s town centres is inextricably linked with thriving communities, according to Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, which is leading the charge of town centre regeneration across the country.

In the final days before Christmas, Prentice said those embarking on a final festive rush can bag brilliant presents – and boost their local economy – by buying from the varied and vibrant businesses on their doorsteps.

He said he hopes this message is remembered all year round, adding: “Our town centres and our local businesses aren’t just another shop or service, they are part of our communities. They are our brothers, sisters, neighbours and colleagues.

“They provide invaluable opportunities for our children and our older people to mix and socialise.

“If we want to have thriving integrated communities in Scotland, then we have to support our town centres by thinking local.”

Prentice pointed out that despite the decline of the UK high street, some Scottish towns have reinvented themselves and gave Wigtown (Scotland’s National Booktown), West Kilbride, Kirkcudbright and Oban as examples.

“The question is what the future holds for our towns in the context of the decline in some of the major industries of the past,” he continued. “A closer look, however, highlights that the spirit of reinvention is very much alive.

“Some towns have totally reinvented – Wigtown as the Book Town, West Kilbride as the Craft Town, Kirkcudbright as the Art Town, Oban for Seafood, Dunoon and Fort William as outdoor leisure specialists.

“Towns such as Inverurie, Prestwick, Gourock and Kilmalcolm are all beginning to see a strong rise in the growth of independent and high quality local niche retail. Our towns are now offering an experience that cannot be replicated online.

“Lots of people will be making a last-minute dash in the next few days to purchase any final gifts, and I’m urging them to think local and think town centres.

“Most people when asked say the want their town centres to thrive now and in the future, but ahead of Christmas I would say to them that it’s actions that matter more than words.”