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North and north-east shops worry as new Covid rules halt festive sales boost

business-rates north
Daniel Boal and Sean McAngus

Already a challenging year for retail around the country, the Christmas period usually represents a surge in customers and profits.

However this year businesses across the north and north-east have seen a significant drop in trading and further worries have arisen now the usually busy period has been cut short.

Eastgate Centre in Inverness manager Jackie Cuddy said: “There isn’t as many people dashing for Christmas presents this year.

The Eastgate Shopping Centre manager Jackie Cuddy.

“There is a higher turnover as we are finding that the shoppers aren’t browsing as much and retailers wises the basket spend average is up.”

At the weekend shopping centres in Aberdeen painted an almost pre-pandemic picture with people queuing to enter stores and rush for last minute gifts.

A surge in activity that unfortunately hasn’t lasted, yesterday the centres told a different, quieter story.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “We are now at the height of the busy festive period, and while it looks very different this year for us all – trade has been steady so far and we hope this continues.”

Elgin’s St Giles Centre enjoyed a steady flow of customers, but calls have been made for the UK and Scottish Governments to step in and save both jobs and the high street.

St Giles Shopping Centre

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at British Retail Consortium said: “Despite sales remaining positive overall, parts of the industry continue to suffer.

“After two periods of prolonged closure, and continued low footfall in towns and city centres, many retailers face the stark reality of further job losses and store closures as a result of mounting rent bills and a return to full business rates liability from next April.”

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