Glasgow saw drop in retail trade during COP26

Glasgow city centre saw a drop in retail trade during COP26 as the climate summit had a “mixed” impact on businesses.

The climate summit had a ‘mixed impact’ on businesses.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, told councillors how hotels had done “quite well” during the United Nations conference but retail and hospitality were hit by an “emphasis” on staying at home.

Speaking at a council meeting on the city centre’s recovery from the pandemic, he said hotels had “got a bit of improvement through November for COP but the December figures drop right back down again”.

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He added: “COP has been a mixed bag. Hotels have done quite well out of COP, retail has seen a further drop, even on the figures I was mentioning earlier, as indeed has hospitality.

“Figures like drops of 50 per cent for retail, drops of 30 to 40 per cent through the two weeks for hospitality, and that’s largely because again there was such a strong emphasis on people staying at home.”

Mr Patrick explained how on Glasgow’s “core streets of retail activity”, visitors per month has been “one million down on where it was in 2019” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chamber of Commerce chief executive said there are concerns that retail is “stuck”, with recovery unlikely to advance “much further in the weeks and months ahead given some of the constraints, particularly home working”.

In comparison, the night time economy has recovered better as “there is less dependency on daytime footfall”.

Writing a blog on the topic of COP26 last week, Mr Patrick said hosting the event was both “wildly exhilarating and deeply irritating”.

“Many city businesses in hospitality and retail have been annoyed by the impact the conference has had on their revenues.

“Pre-COP warnings about protester disruption, transport strikes and VIP security arrangements have chased regular local residents out of the city and drops of 30% to 40% in already subdued trade are not uncommon.”

However, he added Glasgow had been “making potential new friends at a spectacular pace” and rarely had the Chamber had “the chance to meet with so many senior decision makers in so short a space of time”.