Indyref sees profits boom at Holyrood gift shop

The new-look Scottish Parliament gift shop. Picture: Scottish Parliament
The new-look Scottish Parliament gift shop. Picture: Scottish Parliament
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THE link between last year’s independence referendum and souvenir sticks of rock may not be all that obvious.

But increased interest in Scottish politics has helped create a boom in business for the gift shop at the Scottish Parliament.

Books, whisky and sticks of Holyrood rock are all selling like hotcakes.

And the shop made a profit of almost £5000 in the last financial year.

Parliament chief executive Paul Grice reported to MSPs that the number of retail transactions rose by 32 per cent, from 2201 in May 2014 to 2898 in May this year.

Holyrood officials said the boom reflected “the heightened interest in the role of the parliament in recent times”.

Another factor in the sales boost is the relocation of the shop from its previous position, at the far end of the entrance foyer, to a prime site, right next to the exit.

The move was part of the rearrangement of the internal layout when the new £6.5 million security annexe was built as the new public entrance to the parliament.

The shop’s bestselling product continues to be the Scottish Parliament Official Guidebook, with sales up by 42 per cent in May, compared to the same month last year.

Book sales overall rose by 27 per cent, whisky by 37 per cent and sticks of rock by 40 per cent.

Guide Books also continued to sell well through online promotion on the parliament’s website and sales at the visitor information desk in the entrance foyer.

Mr Grice told MSPs in his report: “Books, especially on politics and literature, continue to sell well.

“Visitor Services are investigating options to generate more book sales through additional retail areas directly adjacent to the summer recess exhibitions within the public areas.”

The parliament said income at the shop had risen in line with the increase in sales and the shop continued to show a trading profit, helping to meet parliament overhead costs.

The shop stocks a wide range of goods, from ties, scarves and tea towels to mugs, jewellery and ornaments.

A Holyrood spokesman said: “Many visitors to the parliament want to take home a memento and choose to visit the parliament shop before they leave.

“The increase in sales reflects the heightened interest in the role of the parliament in recent times as well as the improved selection of products and ranges on offer, showcasing the best of Scotland with excellent customer service.” He said the relocation of the shop in autumn 2013 had helped increase the number of retail transactions and given the shop a visible presence on the Royal Mile.

Edinburgh South SNP MSP Jim Eadie welcomed the sales boom and predicted trading would continue to be good in the run-up to next year’s Holyrood elections.

Mr Eadie said: “I’m not surprised there has been an increase in sales, given the uprecedented level of interest from across the world in Scotland’s political journey, both in the run-up to the referendum and since.

“As the debate about the future direction of our country continues, I expect that level of interest to be maintained.”