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UK city’s ‘abandoned’ shopping centre now so empty it’s like a ghost town


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Edinburgh’s once-thriving Waverley Market shopping centre now stands eerily quiet, despite its prime location above the city’s main train station. Edinburgh Live‘s recent visit on a Thursday morning revealed a starkly deserted scene, prompting questions about the future of this retail hub.

Retailers within the mall have noticed a significant downturn in business, with many units lying vacant and footfall sharply declining. The “Food Market” on the lower ground floor remains popular, offering a variety of choices, but other areas are not faring as well.

Post Office employees expressed their concerns, saying: “There needs to be more clothes shops, there is just nothing here. Kingdom of Sweets have moved in next to Flying Tiger but it is just dead down that end. Superdry shut down a long time ago now and then Body Shop recently. unless you go for a Greggs or Starbucks, nothing is down there.”

The Whisky Shop is optimistic about a new food and beverage company set to open opposite Greggs, although details of the new occupant remain under wraps.

Despite the lack of bustling crowds, the few customers present spoke positively about the mall. However, they share a common desire for a revitalisation strategy that would attract more shoppers and fill the empty spaces, suggesting that targeting big retail names could be key to drawing more people in.

Brian from Eskbank revealed, “I honestly don’t come here to shop, I get the train through for work and use the centre to cut through quicker than going up onto Princes Street. Only time I see it busy is at Christmas time.”

Janice from Dundee expressed her views, saying, “Since they got rid of Frasers, Debenhams and the rest of the department stores etc there is nothing along Princes Street so It is either here or St James Quarter although I haven’t been in there yet since it was done up. We went down to Ocean Terminal one time, we went all the way out there and was really disappointed with it.”

She also suggested, “Waverley Market could be doing with more clothes shops – not designer shops necessarily. Something for older ladies like Bonne Marche would be ideal for me.”

The shopping destination, which has undergone several rebrandings, was initially launched as Waverley Market back in 1984. Following its inception, an official opening ceremony took place in the summer of 1985, graced by none other than Queen Elizabeth II.

It’s whispered that the Queen experienced her first escalator ride right here in Waverley Market.

Subsequent renovations in the 90s prompted a name change to Waverley Shopping Centre, and then in the early 2000s, it was renamed “Princes Mall”. The name switched again to Waverley Mall in 2016 before settling on its current title, Waverley Market, in 2021.

City centre regular Veronica, hailing from Edinburgh, shared her routine: “I only come in for the Post office and the In Post Locker, I sell a lot of clothes online so when I have my lunch break I can come here and do it all at once. Apart from maybe grabbing a coffee the centre doesn’t really entice me here for shopping.”

It was noted by several shopkeepers that tourists seem to be the primary customers rather than local residents.

Border resident Allan remarked on his visits: “I come in because it is convenient, it’s right next to the station so not far to go. The wife used to like clothes shopping and stopping by the Body Shop but there is not much on offer like that now. It is handy if we need a gift for someone’s birthday etc, we can go to the touristy shops, the Whisky shop or the stalls offer such lovely gifts too.”

East Lothian’s Louise weighed in with a comparison to the new St James Quarter: “If I come into town and I am pushed for time, it is always St James – hands down. The one thing I will say about Waverley Market is that is so much more relaxed – I’d rather bring my mother who is elderly here, she won’t feel as rushed or stressed. I’d say it would also suit someone with sensory issues – this place isn’t as overwhelming for them, it isn’t too noisy or busy.”

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