Kevin Buckle: Will Edinburgh council help suffering high street shops?
With Edinburgh council under pressure to consider supporting independent businesses on the high street, it has to be remembered that in the end the public will do whatever they want to.
While the council does have the ability to control what businesses are on the high street to some extent, given how many buildings they own, they still can’t tell folk where to shop. They can, of course, also try to do more to attract visitors who may be inclined towards supporting independent shops but beyond that the public will decide.
More and more, even those places in the States renowned for their support of small independent businesses have been suffering, blaming the inexorable rise of Amazon and the general trend to online shopping.
Non-food retailers have suffered for some time, independent or not, but now it is independent cafes and restaurants that are closing, blaming competition from big chains with the popular coffee shop The Caffeine Drip on Melville Pace being the most recent to announce it was to close. High overheads and poor weather were also mentioned while many have recently brought up the fact that the numerous pop-ups in Edinburgh during all the best trading times mean that business is falling year-on-year, especially at peak times. It is doubtful that the council will do anything about the pop-ups and it seems to be in denial about the need to attract a different type of visitor. While Edinburgh is by no means the only city to face these problems, it is probably in a better position than most to affect what is on offer through its buildings and licensing. Whether they do is yet to be seen.