As the latest Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has led the First Minister to announce new restrictions today (21 Dec 2021), Edinburgh West End businesses have launched their own Online Christmas and New Year market.
It is hoped this will provide a local option to buy online from many local businesses, especially over the next 3 weeks of restrictions.
Guidance has stated “people should stay at home as much as possible before Christmas and keep celebrations as safe as possible by keeping gatherings small.”
From December 27, people are being asked to limit contacts as much as they can and this advice will continue over the New Year period and into the first week in January. From December 26, there will also be a limit on the number of people who can attend public events that will run for three weeks.
The timing could not have been any worse for all businesses, especially the hospitality industry who have seen bookings cancelled on a grand scale throughout December. Many small retailers are stocked up with seasonal goods in anticipation of a last minute Christmas rush towards this festive weekend.
Now they have to rely much more on their online stores and appeal to customers through all digital channels.
Many small businesses already have their own e-commerce websites, so the official Edinburgh-WestEnd.co.uk website has been adapted to create an “online Christmas Market” for last minute shoppers. This allows festive shoppers to explore a variety of Christmas gift ideas from a range of retailers all in one place, then buy direct off any one of them.
People are being urged to remember the #ThinkLocal , #ChooseLocal and #LoveLocal messages from the Scotland Loves Local campaign on the run up to this weekend, and into the Boxing Day and New Year sales.
The shop local message is aligned with the new Scotland Loves Local Edinburgh Gift Card accepted across the Edinburgh region by over 160 local and national businesses.
The number of businesses accepting the gift card is expected to increase significantly into the new year, to increase its appeal as a form of ‘local currency’.
All businesses across Scotland are being encouraged to sign up – for free – to accept their regional gift card to add to its appeal to consumers.
To help mitigate against the effect of the new variant, the First Minister today announced a total package of £375m to support businesses through this period.
Last week a £100m fund was announced by the Scottish Government from existing resources. This will be topped up with an estimated £175m from the Treasury. The First Minister confirmed today that they will allocate all of this to business support. ( Source First Minister’s statement – 21 December 2021 )
While this additional funding will be greatly welcomed by businesses, it will not fully make up for the loss of trade at this critical time of year. Local businesses are part of our communities and business owners are appealing to the public to support them once again by shopping local online for Christmas and into January 2022.