‘We should cherish our local shops’

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IN an age where retail chains and supermarkets continue to dominate the shopping habits of the vast majority of consumers it is heartening to report that many independent traders are continuing to thrive.

The debate has long raged on as to whether the steady encroachment of supermarket and metro outlets into communities are contributing to the erosion of local high streets, where for sale and for rent signs are becoming more 
common.

But if anything the success of Edinburgh shops and businesses in the Scottish Independent Retail Awards show that some are not only fighting back, but are proving to be hugely positive stories.

The old fashioned values of knowing your customers and providing excellent service are the cornerstone of their success.

By doing so they have been able to establish customer loyalty and are reaping the rewards for their hard work and market awareness.

Loopy Lorna’s Tearoom, the Edinburgh Bookshop and The Manna House are three shining examples of what can be done to resist the march of the retail juggernauts. The message to others is clear: do it well, and your customers will love you for it, regardless of your size.

There is nothing wrong with a chain or a supermarket. But a vibrant high street should have a healthy mix of local and national shops. Many of these local shops operate on small margins and with staff who work incredibly hard to make them succeed. We should cherish our excellent local shops, pass on the word to others and ensure we patronise them whenever we can.

Santa snub

Santa’s grotto in Jenners has been as much a part of Christmas for generations of Edinburgh children as, well, the Jenners Christmas tree.

So the news today that St Nick has been evicted because of a lack of space will inevitably provoke a chorus of “bah humbug” across the city (and if you think this talk of Christmas is a bit premature, there are just 69 shopping days left!).

Thankfully, Santa will retain visiting rights so all festive cheer will not be extinguished, but it is nonetheless sad to see a city tradition disappear.

No doubt other stores will move quickly to fill the Santa-shaped gap in the market, and we are assured the famous tree will be back in its regular spot this year.

And the unemployed Father Christmas can take one positive if he takes a job at an out-of-town shopping centre – it must have been a nightmare 
trying to park a sleigh on Princes Street.