RETAILERS are pinning hopes on a boost next week when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce an easing of shopping restrictions.
Living Lerwick project manager Emma Miller has been contacting businesses throughout Shetland to keep them abreast of what is needed to keep businesses “accessible and safe” when they open up again.
Miller, who has been undertaking the work as part of a business resilience project that also covers enterprises outside the Living Lerwick umbrella, said that while most rural shops have managed to stay open because of their provision of food essentials, street based clothes shops and the likes have been hit hardest.
She said: “I am really hoping that Nicola’s announcement on (next) Thursday will allow that to go ahead straight away.
“Folk are just picking away as best they can. A lot of folk are offering telephone sales or selling through Facebook or websites and doing as much as they can without being open.”
But Miller said that a bigger challenge lay ahead when the “really good” furlough scheme runs out and employers would have to pay the bulk of staff wages themselves with no money coming into the business.
She added: “If footfall has not returned and they are not getting the business they normally had and they are still having to pay for staff costs – it is just simple economics, it does not compute in the longer term. We are just really, really keen to see some easing of the restrictions.”
Sturgeon on Monday signalled that if the figures show that the coronavirus spread continues to be suppressed, phase two of the return to a so-called “new normal” is likely to the announced.
She said: “If we do keep making the progress we have in the last few weeks, I am optimistic that 10 days from now at the next formal review, we will be able to move, at least in part, into the next phase of our route map out of lockdown, with more individual freedoms restored and more businesses able to open up and operate again.”
Miller, who is also chairwoman of Shetland Tourism Association, said that the government scheme to help bed and breakfasts was very welcome, with grants of £3,000 available, but other sectors of tourism, such as the cruise ship trade, were looking at a blank season.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 440 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News