The traditional view of town centres with row after row of shops should be regarded as a relic of the past, a leading small business body has suggested.
Business leaders and policymakers should seek alternatives to independent retailers to fill the 20,000 business units currently lying empty throughout Scotland, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
While shops "should always have a place in our communities" society will have to accept that shopping, living and working habits "have changed for good", said FSB policy convener Andy Willox.
The Scottish Government has unveiled the team that will lead a national initiative to help breathe new life into town centres.
Leading architect Malcolm Fraser has been named as the chair of the Scottish Government's National Review of Town Centres, which will commence later this month.
The FSB will be part of the review panel which will also include experts from Ernst and Young, the Association of Town Centre Managers, Scottish Retail Consortium, Creative Scotland, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, and Stirling University.
Mr Willox said: "We look forward to sitting on this group to work out what our 21st century town centres could and should look like. If we want to turn around our towns, then considered action from local and central government, private and public sectors will be required.
"Independent retailers should always have a place in our communities but we should also consider other ways of bringing employment and enterprise into the centre of our conurbations.
"What we do know though is that the future of our high streets doesn't lie in the models of the past. Our shopping habits, living and working habits have changed for good."
The panel will be tasked with devising an action plan for re-energising town centres, addressing issues associated with planning, rents and rates, competition and empty properties.