EXETER’S Christmas market was a soar-away success, according to figures released by the city council.
It attracted 500,000 visitors and, in more good news for the city, footfall increased in the rest of the city centre compared to the previous year, once again bucking the trend as nationally figures were down.
And there are plans to make the market even bigger and better this coming Christmas.
The first Christmas market on Cathedral Green was held in 2012 and sported 50 stalls.
Last Christmas that number swelled to 70 and Market Place Europe, which runs the Christmas market, estimates that the number of visitors was 500,000.
This equates to a 40per cent increase on the estimate for 2012.
And it seems that shoppers chose Exeter over other destinations for their Christmas shopping with Market Place reporting visitors from a wide catchment area, with a number of individuals and tour operators visiting Exeter instead of other established Christmas markets, most notably Bath.
However John Harvey, Exeter’s city centre manager, is warning that the city cannot be complacent about the success of the Christmas market.
Mr Harvey said: “We can’t assume that just because it enjoyed increased success that that will continue.
“I am obviously very pleased at how well the market has done but we need to work hard as we can’t just assume that its success will increase each year.
“We can’t be complacent.”
This year the aim is to increase the number of stalls again and to be particularly selective about the mix of stalls."
While Mr Harvey’s report of the city council makes clear that existing business in cathedral Yard and Cathedral Close and in the city centre are upbeat about the contribution the market made to the pre-Christmas period the reaction from the smaller specialist independent trading areas such as gandy Street and the West quarter have ‘at best been neutral’.
Because of this the coming Christmas the city council is to pay particular attention to having a mix of stalls that complements what is offered by the independent businesses, particularly within Fore Street, South Street and Gandy Street.
It is also intended to have a look at the layout of the market to try and avoid congestion at peak times.