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Inverness shoppers turn to retail park and online over high street for Boxing Day sales

Shoppers on Inverness High Street.
Shoppers on Inverness High Street.

Retailers in Inverness have said customers are turning away from the high street and towards the internet and the city’s retail park, as the busy post-Christmas shopping period begins.

On Boxing Day, there were relatively few shoppers to be seen on Inverness High Street compared to previous years.

While some people may be staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic and new restrictions on gatherings and hospitality introduced on Sunday, the city’s shop owners suggested the decline was part of a larger trend.

Jack Stevens, the supervisor of the city centre Mountain Warehouse, said: “The High Street more of a pass-through place, while the retail park is a destination.

“More customers that would have shopped at the High Street shop are at the retail park now.”

Christmas shoppers in Inverness in 2018. Picture by Sandy McCook

Mr Stevens said the Mountain Warehouse store at Inverness Shopping Park was having a much better day – a situation he largely attributed to the free parking available there.

Indeed, the car park at the out-of-town retail area appeared very busy for Boxing Day, and a long queue of customers could be seen waiting outside JD Sports there.

However, Mr Stevens insisted that “the High Street will always have customers”.

Cars at Inverness Retail Park on Boxing Day.

Jennie Kane, the manager of Keepsakes in the city centre, was similarly optimistic about the stretch’s future.

Her branch of the shop – which also has stores in Pitlochry and Lomond Shores – only opened in April of this year, and for the last three weeks they have broken their sales records thanks to locals buying Christmas gifts.

She said: “We have had mostly tourists all day, which makes a change from the locals who make up around 75% of our normal business.”

The flow of customers was “amazing”, she said, taking into account the twin problems posed by those who prefer to shop online and the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Union Street in Aberdeen has been facing similar challenges with a decline in the number of city centre shoppers – you can see the difference yourself with the sliders in our story here.

New restrictions come into force on Boxing Day

From 5am on December 26 attendance at large events will be limited, which the government hopes will ease pressure on the emergency services as well as prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The new changes are:

  • All outdoor events, like football games, will be limited to 500 people
  • Indoor seated events will be limited to 200 people
  • Indoor standing events will be limited to 100 people

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