My Column

Stakes are high for our small firms use local shops or lose them

  • Date: Monday 3rd December 2018
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I’m all for supporting local businesses – they’re the backbone of Scottish enterprise – so I was delighted to hear about the return of ‘Small Business Saturday’.

This grassroots, non-commercial campaign was set up in 2013 to highlight the success and importance of shopping local in Scotland, and the weekend gone marked the sixth annual event.

The day was celebrated with a whole host of networking events across the country as well as free parking on some high streets and some retailers even offering discounts.

In the lead up to the day, Small Business Saturday promoted a different local business each day on its website and social channels.

A favourite of mine was Fair Trade Scotland Ltd, which is Scotland's only Guaranteed Fair Trade member of the World Fair Trade Organisation. 

It works with partners in Malawi and Cambodia to bring Fair Trade coffee to the coffee shops of Scotland. They’re even working on a range of Fair Trade tartan accessories, so I might just keep an eye out for something to complement my look next time I get my kilt out!

Supporting local business is something I’m really passionate about - they provide such a wealth of job opportunities while making our villages, towns and cities more vibrant places to live.

In fact, small businesses sustain up to seven in 10 jobs in the private sector in Scotland with 80,000 and 72,300 people respectively in Glasgow and Edinburgh being employed within these firms.

With lots of budget supermarkets popping up left, right and centre, I can understand how easy it can be to pop in and do a convenient weekly shop. So I thought I’d give a couple of tips on how to shop local and look after our high street.

Let’s start making proper use of our butchers and bakers. I often find the quality of local produce is far higher, and the staff really know their stuff. Not to mention, you can’t beat a nice, crusty loaf that’s come straight from the oven and has been baked five minutes from your house.

Why not pick up your local paper from the shop up the street? You’ll be supporting local journalism as well as local enterprise.

There’s been a massive shift in recent years towards consuming your news fix online. But this means that too often important local stories slip under the radar, and therefore we run the risk of identities that are unique to each postcode being homogenised.

Local newspapers remain a vital communication tool and reinforce what’s best about a particular area.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll spot an event happening on your doorstep that you would have otherwise missed.

When getting your caffeine kick, try to steer clear of the big names. Often I find independent coffee shops have more charm and character, a friendlier feel, and tend to be cheaper than some of the high street chains.

The same goes for eating out. We all love the convenience of restaurant chains - the menu’s comfortingly familiar and you know what you’re getting before you even walk in the door.

How about giving something new a try and supporting local restaurateurs? You might just discover your new favourite dish.

As much as I love the concept of ‘Small Business Saturday’, how about we make it ‘Small Business Every Day’?

So get out there and lend your support – use them or lose them.



We are scheduled to leave the EU at 11pm UK time on Friday 29 March, so no doubt Brexit will continue to be a hot topic between now and then - and long after too.

As Prime Minister Theresa May wins backing for her draft Brexit deal from European leaders, she faces a battle to get it through a vote in the Commons with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisting the deal will make Scotland poorer.

It doesn’t look good, if some are to be believed. The Scottish Government's objections to the deal have been summarised in a new edition of its ‘Scotland's Place in Europe’ paper that includes economic analysis claiming that a new free trade agreement could leave Scots £1,600 worse off per year by 2030.

That’s a total of £9billion a year by 2030, compared to a scenario where the UK remains in the EU.

The report claims that investment in Scotland could be 7.7 per cent lower by this date compared to if the UK had stayed in the European Union.

The First Minster wants the UK to remain permanently in the single market and customs union and has backed calls for another referendum on the Brexit terms, while she believes that the SNP's 35 MPs at Westminster will vote against the deal on 11 December.

Theresa May is now set to visit Scotland on Wednesday as she seeks to build support for her Brexit deal ahead of next month's vote in the Commons.

Here she will insist that the deal will protect jobs and provide new opportunities for exporters as she meets factory workers in Glasgow. Watch this space!




Travelling by train but still want to promptly receive your Amazon parcel? No problem - you may now be able to get it delivered to your seat.

Sounds crazy, right? But, Bombardier Transportation, which is bidding to win a £2.75 billion contract to build high-speed trains in a joint venture with Hitachi Rail, is developing technology which would enable click-and-collect services on board. A very convenient and quirky service.

Bombardier is already developing technology to personalise the customer experience so you can pre-order your coffee and sandwich as well as your Amazon parcels.

If this all goes ahead, the great news is that the high-speed trains will also run beyond the new lines and on existing tracks in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

It’s Amazon what they can do these days.



Oxfam has seen an increase in clothing donations in the past five years, and it’s likely due to fast-moving fashion trends. 

However, I was sad to read that charity shops are also being flooded with poor quality clothes that they have to turn away.

The Environmental Audit Committee has criticised the fashion industry for failing to cut waste, leading to tons of clothes clogging up landfills.

On the other hand, big-name retailers have defended their ability to sell clothes for £5 or less, saying that such items are sold at a loss in order to drive web traffic.


Interestingly, Primark said it was planning to launch a take-back scheme for consumers next year, where old clothes can be returned and used again by overseas charities.

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