We normally don’t have much luck with our Scottish weather. But finally we do seem – after what feels to have been several years of gloomy summers – to have the summertime we’ve all be longing for.
Let’s be honest, we all love a bit of sunshine. But what the tempting glimpses of summer of late have shown us is that sunny days are also very good for local businesses – and that’s something we all should be happy about.
In simple terms, as soon as the sun comes out, it tempts many of us to go outside. From trips to Portobello beach, to coastal runs to Gullane and North Berwick to garden barbecues, there’s nothing like a spot of sunshine to help us all enjoy the tourist destinations under our noses.
That’s a great boost for the many businesses in Edinburgh and the Lothians, most of them small or sole traders, who have continued to trade successfully despite the combination of the economic downturn and the awful summer weather that has blighted Scotland in the past few years.
An upturn in business means more supplies are ordered from other local businesses, more staff get hired, or part-time staff work more hours, allowing them to spend more in the local economy – and so the circle of benefits continues.
One example to illustrate this is the surge in alfresco dining, an activity usually associated with an expensive holiday on the Med but which is now back on the agenda for many.
Our businesses at Goblin Ha’ and The Golf Inn are already up almost a third, with diners taking advantage of our outdoor spaces. That’s mainly down to an upturn in visitors coming from Edinburgh and beyond returning to a more nostalgic “let’s go out for a drive” culture in the long summer evenings and weekends.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see such a surge in commerce, but I appreciate it’s too easy for local firms to rely solely on the weather.
Knowing Scotland, it could all be a distant memory as you get out the brollies the very next day. So I believe the business community itself needs to think more about the consumer experience to ensure the customer is happy at all times – with good food and great service – and keeps returning when the weather fades.
But in the meantime, let’s embrace the summer. And if you do head out to enjoy a lazy day at the beach or an evening meal, just think of the value you’ll be bringing to help local businesses get back on their feet.
Rob Reeley is the owner of Goblin Ha’ in Gifford and the Golf Inn Hotel in Gullane.