The first week was always going to be busy and in a way the bank holiday weekend was overkill on what was always going to be a busy time anyway.
You can’t really pay any attention to the current comparisons being bandied about given the lockdowns that have taken place but one thing that is clear is that footfall is down on what might be called “normal” and that really was to be expected. Shops at least have returned to the possibility of trading successfully while most hospitality businesses are still very much hamstrung by the restrictions in place.
The make-up of footfall is definitely different from that pre-pandemic with younger folk who are most used to shopping online being the ones who have come out in force to the shops. For Avalanche this is fine as we have a very broad customer base but for others whose business is skewed towards the older generations the picture has not been so bright.
Similarly, shops caught inbetween the many tourist outlets in the Old Town are saying things have been quiet for the very obvious reason that a lot of the shops around them that rely on visitors have not reopened.
There is no doubt that the lockdowns have made younger folk in particular appreciate a visit to the shops and a good example for us is their reaction to our T-shirt selection. We have a large selection and go out of our way to source shirts not found easily elsewhere. The excitement of finding a T-shirt they didn’t know existed and therefore couldn’t have looked for online is something youngsters clearly love.
While some shops are more functional I still think there is plenty of room for other shops to offer this kind of experience. A surprising number of the things we sell are presents, we are told, as people of all ages look for an interesting gift for a loved one or a friend.
One shop I think would do incredibly well in Edinburgh city centre is a really good toy shop.
It would have everything going for it. Stocked imaginatively it could satisfy those looking for a more unusual present and could even stock handmade toys from local artists.
It would appeal to locals and visitors alike and of course it could still stock the more popular toys including those from the ubiquitous Harry Potter.
Morningside Road has two toy shops, of course, in the old skool Toys Galore and The Mulberry Bush that leans more towards crafts and the arts but outwith that enclave there is very little, with just a handful dotted around elsewhere and nothing really based in the city centre. Helios Fountain next to my old Grassmarket shop was a real loss when it closed.
Any potential toy shop entrepreneurs feel free to get in touch!