Plans to close non-essential shops in areas placed under the highest level of coronavirus restrictions in Scotland could be the end for some stores, a retail industry body warned.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a new five-level system on Friday, setting out which measures will be in place at each grade of lockdown.

The Scottish Retail Consortium said closing non-essential shops in Level Four – the highest tier – will do little to reduce coronavirus rates.

Its director David Lonsdale said: “We fully support the drive to reduce the R number and to get on top of the current public health situation.

“However we believe any move to close non-essential retailers will have only a very minimal impact on reducing the spread of the virus, whilst carrying very significant economic harms.”

He added: “Retail has demonstrated that it can operate safely in the current environment and it is notable that there was no spike in infections following the lifting of lockdown on non-essential shops at the end of June.

“Scottish retailers have invested tens of millions of pounds to make stores safe and secure for customers, including Perspex screens, social distancing and additional hygiene measures.

“As such, shops remain a safe space for customers and staff.

“Scottish stores lost £2.4 billion of retail sales over the first seven months of the pandemic and have yet to claw their way back to pre-crisis levels.

“Any attempt to close non-essential stores during the golden Christmas shopping quarter may mean many are unable to reopen, having missed out on this vital trading period.

“It’s positive the Government has accepted only in the direst straits should non-essential shops have to close. That decision must weigh up the public health advice which admits to the minimal impact on reducing transmission of coronavirus against the catastrophic effect on those businesses.”

The Level Four measures allow non-essential retailers to operate click and collect services and also permit food-to-go retailers to offer takeaway.