New statistics place Falkirk in Scotland’s top 10 town centres with the most vacant shops.
But the figures have been questioned by the people managing the area’s shopping zones.
The study, carried out by Local Data Company, places Falkirk at number nine in the list, with 19.7 per cent of its shops lying vacant.
Worryingly, Grangemouth comes in at number five at 24.4 percent, while Paisley tops the list with 26.7 per cent.
One shopkeeper in Grangemouth said: “Another couple of shops have closed in the town since those figures came out, so that probably puts us right up at the top with Paisley.
“Things are getting beyond crisis point now. The town is like an open and shut case – one shop opens then the next one down is closed and so on.”
Another trader said: “I wasn’t surprised when I saw the figures, but to have two towns in Falkirk District in the top 10 list for most vacant shops is still pretty shocking.
“The problem lies squarely with Falkirk Council who have done nothing for this town – we’ve been waiting seven years for the regeneration.”
Scotland as a whole stands at 15.4 per cent – which means one in six of the country’s shops is currently lying vacant.
After hearing about the relatively high figures for Falkirk, town centre manager Alastair Mitchell sent his team onto the streets to carry out their own survey of the situation.
He said: “I don’t know what criteria or geographical boundaries Local Data Company were following, but we discovered, after physically going out and counting the vacant shops, the figure was actually 14 per cent.
“It’s nothing like as bad as the figures which were recently published.
‘‘We have had businesses like HSBC recently opening in the town.
“We are more than happy to have non-retail businesses in the town centre.”
Mr Mitchell said he was not being complacent, however, and aimed to improve the percentage even more with a number of initiatives.
He said: “On the positive side, we will soon be launching our inward investment marketing programme in conjunction with Falkirk Council to encourage businesses to come to Falkirk town centre.
“We are also looking at ways to decorate vacant shops with images relevant to the town to make them more attractive.”
Mr Mitchell said the first shop earmarked for a makeover is the old Steeple Barbers in High Street,
Grangemouth’s plight may not be as bad as the figures portrays either and Mr Mitchell said his team would soon be carrying out another survey to get the real picture there.