A woman who has sold shoes in Perth city centre for decades has questioned the future of high streets amid a dramatic decline in footfall.
The city’s queen of shoes Brenda Scott has worked at 24 Scott Street for 40 years and has witnessed plenty changes in the area over the years.
The 57-year-old first worked in the shop when it was called David Guild Shoes in 1982. It has been owned by Begg Shoes since 2002, who have eight other stores in the north of Scotland.
Though she loves her job and the shop continues to flourish, the worker recognises it comes at a bleak time for Perth High Street as several businesses have shut in recent weeks.
Store manager Brenda says the way people shop and how high streets and town centres look has been turned on its head.
She said: “The town centre has changed a lot over the years.
“It was a really busy environment. When we used to have our sales we used to have queues outside the shop, a bit like Next on Boxing Day but not as big.
“The high street wasn’t pedestrianised either like it is now, you could drive up and down it but you can’t do that anymore.
‘Used to be more of a buzz’
“Parking is not the best, there’s a lot of disabled parking but we are lucky to have the Scott Street car park right opposite us.
“There wasn’t as many charity shops back then and I feel like there was more of a buzz before.”
Brenda, who moved from Blair Atholl to Perth aged 19, says she is unsure if high streets have a future in modern society.
She said: “I don’t know if there will be a future of the high street, it is a worry. You just think ‘will it still be there? Or is it going to change into retail parks?’
“If more people shopped local that would help as well and help keep businesses open.
“I suppose a lot of places that don’t do online have caved under the pressure as there hasn’t been the same footfall for everyone to survive.”
Similar to comments from Perthshire Chamber of Commerce’s new president Lori McGaffney, Brenda wants to see more independent businesses on the high street following the departure of some big name retailers.
“It would just be nice to see some more independent businesses and retailers coming into the city,” she said.
“I have to admit the high street is also quite quiet now.
“There isn’t as many shops now but I honestly don’t know why that’s the case.”
While Begg’s Perth store is doing well, Brenda said she is sad to see so many fellow local businesspeople struggle and forced to close.
She said: “With all of the business shutting down in Perth you just think ‘not another one’.
“We are thankfully doing really well but it is upsetting to see that people just aren’t surviving and you think what more could the council do? You just think they would try and do something to help.
Businesses need to adapt
“Businesses just need to adapt to the modern times, you just have to.”
Working in the city centre for so long has brought plenty of memories and seen Brenda watch some of her customers grow up and bring their children into the shop.
Brenda said: “I had a girl come in for an interview once and she said ‘oh I remember coming in with my mum once and I drew a picture of you’.
“I then brought out a folder which had that very picture inside it.
“I love my job and look forward to coming in. I love customer service side of it. Every day is a new challenge.”