Via Kristy Dorsey
During a time that is usually very routine, circumstances shift at a dizzying rate, and so the holiday season proves to be an uneasy end to an already extraordinarily busy year.
During their most significant operating time of the year, those who would usually operate at full capacity – stores, restaurants and pubs – are once again closed and dark. Others have been able to remain open, but if any part of their company has to do with Europe, Brexit’s last-minute dispute has brought no foreshadowing of what Jan. 1 is going to bring. Just six days before Christmas, the landmark news regarding tighter controls to monitor a vicious new coronavirus mutation brought more confusion to a still hopelessly unknown landscape.
Businesses based near to home – or those who can deliver their products and services to the homes of consumers – continued to do better in 2020, although there were several exceptions to the law. There is certainly no pub or restaurant in Scotland that has not suffered, regardless of location; on the other hand, as the pandemic progressed, several big green technology ventures gained prominence.
As for the above, prior to next year’s COP26 conference in Glasgow, hydrogen projects were prevalent in Scotland. Wrightbus, based in Northern Ireland, presented Aberdeen City Council in October with what is claimed to be the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker fleet. The announcement came only weeks after ScottishPower revealed plans to develop a hydrogen plant near Glasgow capable of fueling more than 51,000 buses a year in collaboration with BOC and ITM Power.
Glasgow Hydrogen Fuel ‘in time for COP26′.
Logan Energy, headed by Managing Director Bill Ireland, based in Edinburgh, has secured a range of projects during the year and set its sights on global expansion after winning a deal to supply China with hydrogen refueling stations. Meanwhile, after Ryse Hydrogen, run by industrialist and JCB heir Jo Bamford, committed to a “significant off-take” of fuel once production starts, Scotland-based Hy2Go is expected to start building a production center in Lanarkshire early next year.
With the fall of Philip Green’s Arcadia empire, one of the latest in a long line of closures reported to have contributed to the loss of more than 140,000 UK jobs in the first nine months, it has been a decidedly dreadful year for high street retailers. Land owners have felt the pain when their tenants went bust: in June, major shopping center owner Intu plunged into insolvency, and its Braehead location on the outskirts of Glasgow is now run by Multinational Mutual property investment specialist and Savills estate agency.
As widespread closures of restaurants and other leisure outlets concentrated consumer spending on food for the home, supermarkets saw sales jump, but not all of it went straight to profits. In the six months to August, for instance, Morrisons’ income dropped by more than a quarter as an extra £ 155 million of costs related to health care interventions outweighed increasing revenue.
A key factor in Scotmid’s efficiency was location. Chief Executive John Brodie said that while the trend of more people working from home had strengthened neighborhood stores, a lack of footfall had impacted those focused on food-to-go items in city centers.
The most popular Christmas in its 36-year history is celebrated by Butcher R Stalker & Son in Dalry.
Some local independent stores have effectively carved out fresh niches in the midst of these changes in customer behavior. Among them was family-owned butcher R Stalker & Son in Dalry, which, after welcoming a host of new clients during its closure, reported the most profitable Christmas in its 36-year history.
Workplace solutions providers in the technology sector saw a rise in demand, led by Zoom, as businesses struggled to organise their workforce in the midst of the rapid change from home to work. Similarly, streaming services like Netflix, which directly carry entertainment to the home, filled the void created by the closure of