Independent retailers north of the border are worried the Scottish National Party’s general election success will fuel further discussions about a “damaging” split from the rest of the UK.
The party that instigated the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence gained an unprecedented 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster last week, leading to fears it may push for a fresh vote on the issue.
“If they stick to wanting to look after Scotland as a whole and as part of the UK then it should be OK, [but] another referendum would be a mistake,” said Richard Mclaughlin, owner of three-store men’s and womenswear indie Attic.
Archie Hume, co-owner of countrywear retailer A Hume in Kelso in the Scottish borders, agreed: “Everyone knew SNP were strong but I don’t think they - or I - realised how strong. We must not get back to a referendum. The people of Scotland [have already] voted to keep us in the union.”
Grant Mitchell, managing director of mainstream menswear independent Cooper & McKenzie in Dundee, said: “The last thing I would want to see is a damaging split from the rest of the UK.”
He added: “As a business, the Conservatives continuing in power is the best result we could have had.”
However, Lauren Ferguson, owner of womenswear retailer Sisters Boutique in Falkirk, said: “None of the parties have helped me as a small business owner. SNP brought in rebates, but rates in Falkirk are so high we can’t qualify for the discounts to really help us.
“It won’t change a thing – people will still not come into Falkirk to shop when they have huge parking costs and empty shops and my local council is not going to improve things.”
David Sanderson, co-founder and deputy chairman of cashmere brand and retailer Hawico of Scotland, said he didn’t feel comfortable with the strength of the SNP, fearing it will raise taxes to fund its proposals.
“I’d have thought profitable businesses will be targets to be able to fund all the things SNP is promising, which is quite concerning. There is also the worry that it will eventually drive businesses out of Scotland.
“In a sense it is quite good that they have a strong voice, but that it is neutered by the Conservative majority.”