I’m counting down the days until Avalanche can reopen - Kevin Buckle

It was hard not to feel more positive this week as on Tuesday we got confirmation that non-essential shops, including of course Avalanche. would be able to open again from 26 April and then on Wednesday I got my first vaccine jab.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 7:00 am
Experts agree that the opening of the St James Quarter is expected to improve footfall dramatically - but where?

Realistically though, while it will be great to get back to more human contact again I’m sure that it will take some time before I experience even reasonable footfall.

One problem shops will face is splitting their time between the online sales they will undoubtedly still need and having their shops open. Whether businesses have very hands-on owners or employ several staff, getting that right is something that can only be done by constantly being prepared to change and adapt.

Hopefully this will be governed by a steady improvement in footfall but one thing shops learned after reopening the last time was that there are no guarantees when it comes to guessing customers’ behaviour.

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One unknown in the equation is the effect the opening of the St James Quarter will have. Those looking at the big picture are certain this can only dramatically improve footfall but the question of course is increase footfall where?

Another factor will be that the whole feel of the city centre will have changed with rows of empty shops on Princes Street and George Street. Waverley Mall of course has its share of empty shops at the moment but the advantage of being a small shopping centre is that it won’t take too much to get the place full again.

Thorntons of course is just the latest of businesses to close all their shops and certainly they won’t be the last by a long chalk.

The hospitality industry has been the hardest hit of all but it will also be one of the quickest to recover while retail quite possibly may never be the same again and in a way that would not have transpired had it not been for the pandemic.

Initial thinking was that shops would emerge into a scenario that otherwise might have taken three to five years to develop while now some business leaders are talking about there being a decade of change in one year, something nobody could be expected to prepare for in such a short time.

If one thing is certain it is that there will still be unexpected outcomes for businesses to deal with in the future but for now just the chance to move forward is the start businesses want.

There is a good spirit in the Waverley Mall that reminds me of the time I spent in the Tron Kirk’s art market and that will serve us well in the coming months but it will be no fun being a shop on Princes Street surrounded by other empty shops.

I for one will be counting down the days until Avalanche can open again and while it may be a cliché I’m just taking every day as it comes.