GLASGOW’S reputation as a retail mecca will suffer the same fate as the city's shipbuilding industry unless it embraces radical change, experts have warned.

Shopping is one of Glasgow’s main draws and adds £1.8 billion to the city’s economy through domestic and overseas visitors.

But researchers at Strathclyde University’s Institute of Future Cities claim the current retail model is unsustainable and warn the stream of big-name retailers going out of business will continue unless radical steps are taken.

There are also calls for a plan to create alternative uses for retail space, including converting some buildings to family homes.

Institute director Richard Bellingham said there are important lessons to learn from the fate of shipbuilding in Glasgow.

He said: “One of the issues with shipbuilding is that Glasgow tried to keep it going much longer than was viable but it was part of the culture of the city and politically difficult to get out of that, [but] that process of change is going to continue."

The warning comes as long-standing traders in Glasgow said the emergence of major out-of-town shopping and leisure destinations in recent years has sparked a sharp downturn in fortunes for city centre retailers.

The high street is also suffering from the continuing migration of retail sales to online platforms from traditional bricks and mortar outlets.

Robert Rogerson, deputy director at the institute, said: “We’re seeing a lot of retail companies in severe financial problems.

"Unless they fundamentally change their business models that will continue.”

According to the institute, changes should be made to planning regulations to allow commercial space in the city centre to be opened up to independent businesses.

Sandy Greaves, whose family have run sports shops in the city for decades, closed one of its two outlets in the city centre last year.

The closure of Greaves on Sauchiehall Street store severed the link the family had with the site which stretched back to the 1960s.

And last week family-owned Watt Brothers said it was considering pulling the plug on its long-established Sauchiehall Street department store to help repay debts.

Mr Greaves said: “Dare I say it, the council have put so many barriers in place to stop people coming in, or to not make it such a nice environment.

"They are talking about the parking meters going back on a Sunday. What can we do as retailers?

“They have surrounded us with shopping centres at every artery into Glasgow - you’ve got Braehead, the Fort, Silverburn.

"You’ve got to go past a shopping centre [and] you can park there for nothing.”

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said it was aware of the changing nature of retail and was already taking steps to be in a position to adapt to change.

He said: “Our City Centre Strategy – and other regeneration frameworks associated with that strategy - responds directly to this by developing a new vision of mixed use and mechanisms for achieving it.

“While we remain open to suggestions on how best to create a vibrant and sustainable city centre in a fluid retail environment, we feel that independent traders will evolve and take the opportunity to create a unique retail offering in the city centre alongside the major retailers."