Christmas markets have brought festive cheer to towns and cities across the country, with some places experiencing a surge in shoppers spending locally.
New research for the Local Government Association, in partnership with NABMA Market Place, reveals that all areas studied have seen an increase in the past 12 months, and that Christmas markets are on track to have broken the record £250 million spent in markets in 2015.
Coach tours and “staycations” have contributed to this seasonal surge, showing that many Brits have preferred to spend their money locally rather than travel abroad to markets on the continent, according to the LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales.
Councils have worked closely with local traders and operators to make sure a variety of stalls and attractions have kept people coming back, in a tradition that stretches back 35 years since the first dedicated Christmas market in England was established.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said:
“These findings show that people have embraced new ways to come together and enjoy themselves in our towns and cities at this special time of year.
“Our Christmas markets have grown from strength to strength, rivalling even the long-established German markets as places to visit and spend their time and money.
“Councils have also worked with organisers to bolster security measures, helping everyone relax and enjoy these markets as safely as possible to make the most of the festive period.”
NABMA President, Cllr Chris Rosling-Josephs, said:
“Markets are a key part of the retail offer of a place, not just at Christmas, but many places up and down the country are providing quality events that appeal to families, offer opportunities to buy something different, enjoy festive food and drink, and encourage dwell time in town centres.”
Quality hot food and drink, a diverse range of arts and crafts and a host of family and leisure attractions are just some of the successful ingredients which have seen Christmas markets and their surrounding areas thrive.
Manchester Christmas Markets have been voted the best in the UK, in a recent online poll to find Europe’s best Christmas market. The annual competition, held by travel website European Best Destinations, saw Manchester shrug off strong competition from a list of 100 Christmas markets, and placed higher than stalwart Christmas destinations such as Dresden, Leipzig and Cologne.
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is now believed to be the most visited authentic German market outside Germany and Austria (4.6 million in 2016), while Lincoln – home of the very first German-style Christmas market in 1982- was expecting up to 250,000 visitors this year.
In Stratford-upon-Avon, the three-day Victorian Christmas market experienced record numbers of people, with all car parks full by 10am.
Many traders had sold out in Lincoln and Stratford at their markets, despite being forced to close early due to severe weather.