This article should come with a health warning: caution, look out for rising stress levels!
We’re looking back at Christmas shopping in Aberdeen down the decades and I felt my blood pressure rising just looking at the photos.
Remember the desperate plunges into department stores, battling with the crowds, seeking inspiration, your mind a blank?
Or standing there, gutted, looking at an empty shelf where the toy your child had set their heart on has just sold out?
It’s enough to get the blood pressure up, but deep breaths, let’s get started!
Here shoppers are out in force in Union Street in mid-December 1994.
They were entertained by Scaramouch Theatre members Niki McCretton and Wrigg Campbell as they donned stilts and police uniforms.
Unlike today’s trading conditions, it was a bumper trading weekend, with David Moody, manager of the St Nicholas Centre in Aberdeen, saying: “It’s really been very hectic here.
Thousands of people an hour
“We have had around 12,000 people an hour entering the centre and the place has been tremendous.”
He attributed this to the mild weather helping bring out huge crowds— again things might be different in the equivalent weekend this year with Arctic blasts expected.
The Bon Accord Centre was heaving with decorations and shoppers in 1996.
It’s busy these days of course, but internet shopping has eroded the massive crush of earlier decades.
And the rainbow colours of C&A have long since gone.
It’s December 1, 1985, and there was a carnival atmosphere for shoppers on the temporarily pedestrianised Union Street.
There’s Woolworths on the right! Always good for stocking fillers and so much more at Christmas.
In fact, if you were canny, you could get the whole lot done in there.
Bumping into Santa on your travels was an ever-present risk.
Here he is in the Trinity Shopping Centre in 1990 making a grand entrance to cheering crowds.
He’s accompanied by Friar Tuck (David McLeod) from the panto Babes in the Wood, staff from some of the Trinity Centre shops, and the usual collection of excited children.
The introduction of five pedestrianised Sundays on Union Street in the run up to Christmas was a great hit with shoppers.
Here are the throngs of 1991, while in the shops, tills were ringing merrily and sales were generally believed to well up compared with the previous year.
Christmas seems to get started earlier every year, and 1995 was no exception.
This photo marks the ‘100 shopping days to go’ milestone at the Bon Accord Centre.
Boots sales consultant Yvonne Willox is pictured bedecking the store in readiness for weekend shoppers.
But the early start sparked anger that year, with one city minister blasting the ‘crazy commercialisation of Christmas’.
How about being landed with a giant, impossible-to-store Santa toy just before Christmas?
It happened to the Poleson family of Cunningsburgh, Shetland in 1989 on a shopping trip to Aberdeen.
They had posted a coupon in the Hall of Cards shop in the Trinity Centre only to find themselves the (unlucky?) winners.
In the photo, three-year-old Jennifer Moore of John Street, Arbroath found herself helping sales assistant Margaret Madden get Santa on his way north.
Thankfully shopping can be combined with street entertainment. Here’s Sean Burn, from Maverick Productions, strutting his stuff in 1996.
That year was also a bumper one for the city centre with queues forming outside department stores before they opened.
Debenhams manager Nick Harvey said: “It was an exceptionally busy day and our best Sunday performance so far.
“When we opened doors at 10am there was a queue of about 200 people waiting to get in.
Thousands of shoppers in store
“Throughout the day there may have been up to 3,000 shoppers in the store at any one time.
“Santa’s grotto saw several hundred young visitors with some families queuing for up to 30 minutes.”
The stores reported hats, scarves, gloves and cosmetics as popular gift choices—this year the first three would have to come with some sort of heating tech to be truly appreciated.
Back to 1987 at Esslemont & Macintosh when Santa swopped his reindeer and sleigh for a special freezer lorry to deliver these snowmen for the festive season window display.
Window dressers Denise Sproston (left) and Karen Presley were on hand to unload the merry mechanical characters and introduce them to four year old Dana Barclay.
The things we have been deprived of since the closure of the E&M in 2007.