Hundreds of people queued up to grab a bargain as Aberdeen’s stores opened for the Boxing Day sales last year.
And in any other year, the city’s shops would be a hive of activity.
But in 2020, the picture was very different, with the city centre deserted and many businesses closed, apart from those classed as essential.
Under Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions, which came into force at the weekend, all non-essential retail businesses have had to close their doors to the public.
Click and collect services and online retail is permitted.
At the city’s Bon Accord shopping centre, only a few outlets remained open over the weekend, with the rest operating a click and collect service – or closing altogether.
Centre manager Craig Stevenson said: “This year has undoubtedly been different from other Christmas periods. We do have a number of essential stores open and some are doing click and collect, but the place has a very different feel to normal.
“All we can do is work under the restrictions in place, and our job is to make sure the experience is as good possible.
“I think for those customers who have been in, it’s been a calm experience. We are very much encouraging people to only shop when necessary and only do essential shopping.
“If we all do our wee bit now, hopefully we will get back to normality sooner. It’s on all of us to do our bit just now.”
Adrian Watson, the chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, warned some businesses would miss out on a significant portion of their annual sales because of the restrictions.
He said: “The difference [between last year and this year] is clearly stark. With the move to level four, non-essential retail and hospitality is now closed at a time when we would traditionally have enjoyed healthy footfall figures embracing the festive sales.
“While we all understand the rationale for doing so, the move to level four comes at a critical time for retailers, with up to 90% of annual sales achieved over the festive period.
“Prior to this latest ‘national lockdown’, Aberdeen city centre had experienced a modest uplift in footfall, buoyed by the likes of the Aberdeen Gift Card and Christmas market.
“Expectedly, the next few weeks will be extremely challenging and we hope, when it is once again permitted, that the north-east public will once again support our city centre retail that has done so much to make it a safe and welcoming experience. Never has there been a time when it is more needed.”