THE full re-opening of the Kingsgate has been compared to the sense of anticipation that the £50 million extension to the shopping centre brought in 2008.

Centre manager Neil Mackie was "absolutely delighted" to welcome customers and businesses back to the Dunfermline mall after lockdown measures forced many outlets to close in March.

While the Kingsgate remained open throughout, only a handful of stores could trade until the Scottish Government announced that restrictions could be lifted.

Mr Mackie said: "It's a bizarre feeling as while we're absolutely delighted to be fully open again, it's a new normal.

"Everyone is up and trading again but with severe caution to make sure customers and members of the public are kept safe and we're policing the wearing of masks.

"It is a fantastic day. The closest analogy I can think of is when we opened phase two of the Kingsgate in 2008, it's almost like starting a new business."

He continued: "From the positive side, 99 per cent of our traders have opened and those that haven't were ones that we knew have been on a break anyway.

"I'm delighted with the way it's gone. We deliberately had a soft launch, as we didn't want hordes of people in at once, we'd rather have organic growth, and it's gone exceptionally well."

The lockdown has hit businesses hard and there are concerns about the economic impact on the high street and shopping centres.

Mr Mackie said: "We can talk about a recession, it may or may not happen, but if that comes it'll be a bigger issue than we can control.

"I'd prefer to focus on trade, commerce and retail getting back to some kind of normality.

"Under no circumstances am I making light of the poor people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic but the vast majority of people have been on furlough or working through.

"They have built up disposable income they couldn't dispose of so we are seeing that turn around as shops open up again for business.

"It's not as bleak as 2008 when finance totally collapsed due to the banking crisis. Hopefully, the situation will now start to improve."