National rail strikes this week are set to represent ‘another blow’ for Scotland’s retailers and wholesalers.
Nearly 90% of ScotRail services will be cancelled on Tuesday 21, Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 June, with city centre venues set to bear the brunt of the knock-on impact of the strikes.
Nathan Rowan, business to consumer director at Dunns Food and Drinks, said he believes some hospitality businesses could be forced to close during the action as staff struggle to get to work.
It comes at an already difficult time for Scotland’s city centres, as the figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium show sales growth continued to stall last month as people cut spending amid the cost of living crisis.
Rowan said: “In general terms, the rail strikes represent yet another blow to city centres. A lot of the premises we supply see reasonable business up until around 8pm, however city centres are emptying rapidly and early. We have even seen reductions in our distribution vehicle weights, as city-centre venues prepare for a drop in customers this week.
“More people will be working from home on the affected days, so lunchtime trade in office areas could struggle. I wouldn’t be surprised if some even close on the days on the strike as staff will be unable to get to work.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh-based brewers Vault City Brewing – who operate the Wee Vault tasting room and bottleshop on Maitland Street, next to Haymarket train station – are expecting to see a drop in footfall as a direct result of the strike action.
Co-founder Steven Smith Hay said: “Because of how close Wee Vault is to the station, we usually have a fair amount of commuters popping in for a drink or picking up a bottle to go after they’ve finished work for the day. We’re really conscious of the fact we’re going to see those numbers fall this week.
“On the other hand, we’re expecting to see more people waiting for longer periods in the bar until the next available train comes along which, in turn, could mean customers spend a little more money. It really is a bit of a double-edged sword.”