Bridge closure is festive bonus for town retailers

Kirkcaldy town centre benefited from the bridge closure
Kirkcaldy town centre benefited from the bridge closure

The closure of the Forth Road Bridge was a Christmas present for retailers in Kirkcaldy’s town centre.

The bridge was forced to close for maintenance work on December 4 and was expected to remain unusable until after the new year - throwing many shoppers’ plans to travel to Edinburgh into disarray.

However it would appear that with the uncertainty over the bridge, which eventually reopened on December 23, many chose to shop local, rather than go online.

Bill Harvey at Kirkcaldy 4 All called reports from town centre traders “encouraging”

He said: “It looks like the closure of the bridge definitely helped generate footfall down into the town centre, albeit it was bad for some businesses.

“More people came down here and they were able to see what a variety we have here, both with major retailers and small independent shops.

“Hopefully those new shoppers will have liked what they saw and will decide to come back.”

Derek Anderson at Forth Music in the Merchant’s Quarter, which said he was “reasonably happy” with festive trading at the new store.

“It went well considering it was our first Christmas as Forth Music,” he said.

“Sales have continued into January too so overall it’s above what I’d expected so I’ve no complaints.”

Alistair Cameron at ACA Sports said he had some Christmas customers in his shop for the first time ever.

“Christmas was good but not spectacular for us. January has been OK, we’ve been pretty steady with the sale which has been great.

“What happened in December was our in-store sales were up due to the bridge closure. In fact we actually had some customers saying that they didn’t know we were here - we’ve been opened 12 years!

“However, the majority of our business tends to be online and that took a hit. People knew that the bridge was shut so they didn’t want to take the risk of ordering from us and then not getting their orders in time.

“So overall I was reasonably happy but not over excited.”

Stephen Roberts, Centre Manager at the Mercat, added: “Christmas shopping was excellent throughout November and December with customers continuing to shop right through until closing time on Christmas Eve.

“The sales period after Christmas has also seen an increase in shoppers to the Centre and, with our strong retailer offer, we are looking forward to this continuing throughout 2016.”

One of Kirkcaldy’s newest businesses is Babas Bistro on Whytescauseway which opened just before Christmas and is also reporting a good turnover of trade.

Owner Zafer Kilic said: “We opened on December 14. I had hoped to open at the start of December but we had problems with a gas connection.

“December went very well for us, in fact it was better than I had expected.

“January had been quieter obviously, but we expected that, though we’ve still been busy at weekends.

“We’re very happy so far and I’m confident that things will get even better over the course of the year.”