Why Scots retail can flourish with the right offering - Emma Newlands

Before March 2020, a jaunt round the shops was a pretty commonplace activity for me, especially late-night opening on a Thursday – even if I was far more often just browsing than actually making any purchases.

By Emma Newlands
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 4:55 am

And a new report from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has flagged how January sales in Scotland were down by almost 8 per cent compared to before the pandemic.

However, the performance in what is traditionally a quiet trading month was an improvement of 5.1 per cent from December, and interestingly, formal office wear fared well as more people return to company premises and leave behind working at home in loungewear.

The SRC did also strike a note of caution, stating factors such as high inflation and stretched household finances are making sales for traders difficult.

January sales in Scotland fell 8% compared to before the pandemic, but were up 5.1% from December (pictured). Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

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But there is cause for optimism. Commercial property consultancy Knight Frank, in a report published today, has found Edinburgh and Glasgow to be among the most resilient retail centres in the UK outside London, and predicted this will remain the case, despite changes either in hand or proposed for major retail anchors Jenners and Buchanan Galleries.

Auld Reekie had the most productive retail space of any major UK city outside the Big Smoke, although that was admittedly before the opening of the St James Quarter.

My trips into town often involve stopping off at the £1 billion site, although I feel like its food and beverage offering is a greater draw to me than some of the many chain shops that seem aimed either at 20-somethings – a category I am well past – or those with very deep pockets – I category I only wish I found myself in.

I was therefore thrilled to hear HMV announcing yesterday that it is returning to Princes Street, opening next month with a focus on vinyl, news that would also no doubt be music to the ears of my teenage self who relished a trip into the then-flourishing city centre and the thrill of leaving the record store with a physical album bought with pocket money.

“Fans of music, film and pop culture are keener than ever to get their hands on physical product,” HMV says of the coming site – which will hopefully help bring about a positive, revitalising new chapter for the area.

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