There’s no business like snow business

Retailers react to blizzard conditions

A Siberian front has coated central Scotland in snow since Wednesday (28 Feb).

SCOTTISH supermarkets may have seen a few tussles in the bread aisle this week but, as the wind from Siberia turned the central belt into a Russian postcard, how have Scotland’s c-stores got on?

Not too badly it seems, with retailers across the country stepping up to keep doors open for as long as the elements would allow.

In Biggar, South Lanarkshire, Donna Morgan of Best-One @ Brownlies said her store has performed well despite the challenges

“We’ve been very busy which is good,” said Donna.

“We bake our own bread and we’ve managed to keep baking bread. The roads are still closed, a couple of deliveries have managed to get in. Warburtons got in, Walkers made it with their big truck, and the chap from Mortons Rolls has been amazing, he’s been in every day.

“If the road gets open to Edinburgh we’re going to try a cash and carry run tomorrow.”

There may be gaps on the shelves at Brownlies, but not on the rota according to Donna who heaped praise on the effort put in by store staff this week.

“My staff have been amazing, everyone was in. We’ve stayed open regular hours, six until 10. One of my staff members was in at half past four in the morning to make sure the shop opened on time while I had kids to juggle with the schools closed,” she said.

From South Lanarkshire to the North East, wintery conditions have been a lot closer to Scottish norms in Peterhead.

Forecourt retailer Gary Haig of Peterhead Motors explained: “It’s not really affected us. We’ve got a dusting here but it’s not as thick.

“What it has done is affected my supplies. Filshill can’t deliver to us because they’re stuck in the central belt and Nisa comes up from Livingston so they can’t deliver to me.”

Store supply lines aren’t the only ones that have been knocked off by blizzards this week, Gary said fuel has also been a concern.

“I have fuel, but there’s a filling station at Mintlaw that’s run out, Asda and Morrisons have run out.

“Esso was supposed to come in on Tuesday but that delivery isn’t arriving until Saturday now,” he said.

Veteran retailer David Sands has also experienced delivery woes this week and he reckons some suppliers must do better.

“It’s been frantic. Customers rely on us to get daily supplies and we’ve had to go ourselves,” said David.

“Nisa’s central distribution chain has not been good. The communication telling us when we’re going to get deliveries has been very poor. With milk we can’t tell customers when we’re going to get it. It makes us look pretty stupid. People rely on their local stores.

“I distinctly remember 2010 when the weather was probably worse, that you’ve just got to prioritise things. It didn’t help the Scottish Government telling lorries not to be on the road. Food stores should be a priority along with hospitals.”

While Nisa may not have come through, David Sands said is staff have been excellent throughout.

“Yes we had difficulties but we worked around it, we had some people staying in hotels which is fine, we pay for that. I think all stores have a duty to be open in conditions like this,” he said.

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