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The truths they don't want you to read....

Sunday, September 16, 2007

RET - the downside

Let me start by saying that I am 100% behind RET and that it is A Good Thing for the community as a whole, and the sooner it is introduced the better. I've already had a go at the SNP for delaying the introduction for yet another study, for good reason too, and I'll give them the plaudits when (if?) we get an unconstrained implementation.

Despite being A Good Thing, some sectors of the business community will be hurt and they need to adapt in advance or see their business disappear. Over the past few weeks a number of these businesses have identified this as a risk and have been in discussions seeking advice on how to change.

Now, they know RET is A Good Thing, and want it to go ahead, but they fear two things:-
* Customers going to Inverness to buy the product, or
* Competitors moving here

The former is, of course, bad for the local community by taking money out of the system, but the latter is not necessarily a bad thing. Competition should cause prices to fall and variety to increase - compare the choice in Chemists between today and ten years ago.

The local business must realise that they will have to take steps to protect their position, but I still foresee a shake out on the (metaphorical) high street and a significant change in the nature and type of businesses on the islands as a result of RET. It will change these islands for the better, but we mustn't forget those who will lose out.


Anonymous said...

You missed out some of the positives, such as it being cheaper for Outer Hebrides based businesses to "export" to the mainland.

Plus, the bit about competitors moving here will also mean people moving here (plus). As well as other people moving here (another plus) as the gap in the cost of living between the Outer Hebrides and the mainland narrows.

Some businesses will have to diversify and face more competition (I'm possibly one). Not necessarily a bad thing. Those businesses that flourish only because of the weird form of "protectionism" held up by high ferry fares are arguably in an ethically dubious place anyway.

Angus said...

Actually, I missed out all the positives as they are too numerous to mention.

But, every business on the islands needs to plan now for the potential downsides. Those who don't won't survive, and some others will be driven out regardless.