Edinburgh's ‘best city’ title has nothing to do with our marketing - Kevin Buckle

Even the hot weather which is normally not a good sign for retailers has not affected business this week as Edinburgh starts to fill up for the summer.

Time Out of course declared Edinburgh to be the best city to visit in the world this week as voted for by Edinburgh residents! “Every year the Time Out Index surveys thousands of city-dwellers around the world about life in their hometown right now. Using their responses, Time Out compiles its annual ranking of the world’s best cities.”

This is of course the usual bogus statistically-compiled list that the media and those who feature love, with even the First Minister feeling the need to tweet the list as Glasgow also came in fourth.

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Welcome to Edinburgh, best city in the world- Cammy Day
Time Out said this week that Edinburgh is the best city to visit in the world

I certainly wouldn’t argue with Edinburgh being top of the list and the premise that Edinburgh is the most beautiful and walkable city in the world – but this has nothing to do with those paid to promote Edinburgh.

The problem for the high street, of course, is not getting people to Edinburgh but getting them to visit and spend money in shops once here.

Forever Edinburgh have just produced an Edinburgh music map which does include Avalanche and will be of use to really keen music lovers.

Generally though there is still little signage to move footfall further around the city centre and Old Town businesses from St Mary’s Street to the Grassmarket are not seeing the big increase in footfall Princes Street has seen.

Never has there been a more important year for retail and the last thing they need is competition for sales popping up, yet that of course is the nature of what happens every year.

For high street businesses the full business rates are starting to kick in so competition from “charities” and social enterprises paying little or no rates is a big issue.

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Nobody would want money taken away from a cancer charity but when a rates-paying business hears that another business is a social enterprise because it pays wages and then reinvests anything left into that business they find it hard to see how they are different, especially in the bad times when they can’t afford to pay themselves a wage at all.

With so many councillors having a background working for charities it is no surprise they see the loss to the public purse as perfectly acceptable.

Edinburgh has certainly become more affordable for families, especially in August, as the number of hotels has increased, which is good for Avalanche in our Waverley Market location, but the number of big-spending visitors supporting the arts has surprisingly been an issue in Edinburgh for some time and has never been addressed.

Edinburgh’s great appeal is ironically its weakness when it comes to marketing as it sells itself so no amount of incompetence from those tasked with its promotion can sabotage that.

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However once we get down to the more nuanced needs to take advantage of the footfall generated things start to fall apart.

I’m not sure how the city centre’s businesses will fair this summer but the statistician in me will wait and see how things pan out. I doubt if Edinburgh Council will pay such close attention.

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