Respect at last?

Antony Begley

We can argue forever about whether it should have been done a long time ago, but the fact remains that it’s extremely welcome news that local retailers, their staff and the people they share homes with are now eligible for coronavirus testing.

It is not overstating the point to say that retailers and their teams are literally risking their lives every day in order to provide communities across Scotland with the products and services that they absolutely require.

Once again local retailers are demonstrating beyond any shadow of a doubt how far they are prepared to go in order to look after the people in the communities they serve. There are too many examples to mention but I can say without fear of contradiction that Scotland’s local retailers have covered themselves in glory over the last couple of months – and one positive thing to come out of the ungodly mess that is coronavirus is that our sector finally appears to be gaining a little of the respect that it has so long deserved.

MSPs and MPs have been increasingly forthcoming in formally recognising the efforts of local retailers across Scotland the rest of the UK and we can only hope that a legacy of Covid-19 will be a re-evaluation of the importance of convenience retailers to communities across Scotland.

We may finally be able to shed our ‘corner shop’ personae and instead be recognised as progressive, positive, compassionate and ridiculously hard-working pillars of our communities. Where would Scotland have been in the last eight weeks without convenience stores?

There are too many tear-jerking examples of local retailers demonstrating outstanding commitment to their communities, but one example that is worth highlighting is that of Linda and Dennis Williams in Edinburgh. In less than a month they have generated over £9,000 in donations for their Community Hardship Fund and are busy handing it out in small bundles to people in their community who really need a hand right now. The idea is so simple but so effective – and it’s one that is easy to replicate in communities throughout Scotland.

This crisis has seen our industry rise to the challenge and then some. My hope is that these efforts won’t be lost in the mists of time once this is all behind us. This is a vital industry in so many senses. Let’s hope Holyrood is finally beginning to understand that.

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Antony Begley, Publishing Director