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'Byres Road could be blueprint for future high street'

Business figure and trader John Turner says Byres Road and its mix of small shops could be the model for other towns.

So here I am, back on the sofa again, enduring another lockdown, trying to keep myself busy and not overindulge on the chocolate biscuits, writes John Turner.

In some ways, this second lockdown already seems longer and harder than the first one, in particular because this would normally be the busiest time of year for our business.  

Thankfully our online sales have been steadily rising, and we are very grateful for that.  Please do all that you can to support your local businesses at this difficult time.

As I write this, the news has just broken that Debenhams is to close, which on the back of the news of the Arcadia Group a few days before, means that around 25,000 people are going to lose their jobs. 

This is devastating news not just for the families of all those directly or indirectly affected, but also to the high streets and city centres which will be left with major “holes” in their frontages which are going to be very difficult to fill.

We are very fortunate in the West End that we do not have many major “names” or a massive flagship store which is going to sit empty for years. 

In that respect, the Byres Road and Lanes area sets out what could be seen as a blueprint for the future of high streets everywhere, with its eclectic mix of smaller supermarkets, individual and in many cases unique shops, boutiques and galleries, personal services such as hairdressers and beauty salons, professional services (banks, estate agents, solicitors etc) and an excellent range of first class hospitality venues.  

Byres Road has an eclectic mix of shops.
Byres Road has an eclectic mix of shops.

What has been particularly exciting over the last few months is seeing a number of new businesses open up in the area, and others planning to do so in the near future.  

And so despite the gloom and doom in the news, I remain cautiously optimistic that although the next few months will be tough, we can make it through to the other side, and come out all the stronger.

We are very fortunate in the West End that we do not have many major “names” or a massive flagship store which is going to sit empty for years

John Turner

Christmas is a time for rekindled hope, and I was delighted to see the last GWET newsletter highlighting what I believe is the Christmas Song of 2020. 

Called “Hope Christmas gets you to me” by the duo Lapwing, who are local teachers Phil and Tim (who by coincidence are good friends of mine) it is a haunting, simple, poignant song full of hope and longing, and so beautifully encapsulates all that we are feeling at the moment. If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a listen, it will do you good!

In the meantime, stay safe and well, and see you soon

It might be a blessing for Byres Road that there are no no larger shops.
It might be a blessing for Byres Road that there are no no larger shops.
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