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Retailer Profile - Abington General Store
We sat down with David Lindsay of Abington General Store to discuss his experiences with Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), David's adjoining shop café, and how the bad weather affects footfall numbers.

Is the shop a lifeline during bad weather?

It depends on the time of year and what the forecast is like. Everywhere has been hit bad with snow in Scotland, and we’ve gotten off lightly in comparison – yet it’s been the quietest few days I’ve had in ages. Why is that? When people are commuting to the bigger towns and to the city they will stock up on their way home. Nobody wants to stop. If you are in Edinburgh and the weather is really bad, you’ll assume the weather here will be the same.
However, if it snows and people get trapped in the village then my shop can become inundated with people. So you can never tell or predict footfall when it comes to bad weather. It’s already a quiet time of year (Jan-Feb), especially when the snow hits, but some days can still surprise you. You can never guestimate when the weather is bad. As soon as the clocks go forward, things will change again.

I have to say that the locals around here use the shop a lot and I’m very grateful for that.  Having somewhere like this broadens their sense of community. However, customers don’t use the shop for everything. I’ve tried to change that, but the weekly shop is bought further afield in larger places. Most visitors buy the essentials, but if I were to buy in a Chicken then it would still be there at the end of the week. If you start bringing something new in then you need to prepare for the famine before you enjoy the feast. I have tried in the past, but wastage was a big problem.

How are things going with your café?

We are five years in with the café now. The filled rolls are popular and I’d recommend the process to other shops who have the space. Although it depends where you are, and it takes some balance to get right. I originally shut the café down as the numbers were all over the place. One day I could be serving 78 pizzas, and then the next have two customers for three members of staff.

I reopened after bad weather washed away the foundations for a stretch of nearby railway and contractors started coming to the shop. The demand for lunches was high. The café has been a success ever since.

Has MUP affected alcohol sales?

It hasn’t. MUP has made very little difference. The only change I have seen is Strongbow. I never kept the cheap ciders, but I have always had Strongbow on offer. It went from £2.99 a bottle to no less than £5. Apart from cider drinkers, I’ve seen no change at all.

It should have made a difference around Christmas time because people buy drink when they are doing their big shop at the supermarkets. My prices are actually better than most big chains, yet shoppers don’t seem to have cottoned onto this change yet.

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