It’s that time of year again! First week of December and Christmas is just around the corner. Many of you might feel it’s a relaxing time, in which we spend time with our families next to the fireplace and share stories. Others might think that it’s the most stressful time of the last 12 months, in which we need to buy millions of presents and travel far to meet family members you haven’t seen in ages. In London, as in any other city of the world, Christmas perceptions are varied. People might benefit of some time off, or actually get really stressed. However, in the UK, the truth is that the ones that really get a benefit from Christmas are the stores, and most of the retail brands.
In fact, during 2017, the average expenditure of a household in the UK was of £821 while retail spending on Christmas during 2015 in the UK was of £2 billion (Statista, 2018). Who could ever imagine that a religious traditional festival that dates back and was celebrated since 336 A.D would generate some much revenue to certain sectors in the current markets.
With this in mind, the traditional holiday spirit is little by little fading away in the UK and in Europe, especially because of the stressful, hectic lives we all live daily. But, in order to revive this Christmassy spirit, the UK is opening more and more Christmas Markets. The question is: Are these markets really trying to foment the Christmas spirit? Or is it just another marketing strategy to generate revenues?
The most iconic Christmas Market we find in London, is by far Winter Wonderland, located in Hyde Park. However, there are many other markets you can find throughout Europe. Examples of the ones located here, in the UK, are: The European Christmas Market in Edinburgh, Belfast Christmas Market, Blenheim Palace Christmas Market, Bath Christmas Market, Birmingham German Christmas Market, and many others. So, wherever you are in the UK you will find a Christmas market without a problem. They all have live music, family games, stalls and enormous amounts of mulled wine. Not only can you find some really cool gifts or original decorations, but you can also find tasty food and drinks. The perfect way to spend the festive season.
So, you thought that since your Summer holidays were over, you could save some money. Well, it’s now time to begin planning for the Christmas Market season. According to a study conducted in 2014 about these markets, £4.45 was spent in Europe only in Christmas markets (Centre for Retail Research, 2014). To understand the magnitude of average spending on these events, a year before this, the average spent on each visit to a Christmas market in Manchester was of approximately £80.80, from which £41.11 corresponded to shopping (Nabma, 2014).
Moreover, the volume of visitors to this sort of events is also growing rapidly. Millions attend these markets, especially in Germany. Just the number of visitors Germany had to its Christmas markets, accounted for 270 million during the year 2014 (Statista, 2018). This figure is known to be bigger nowadays. The reason why Germany has such a high popularity for its Christmas markets also relies on the fact they’ve had them since medieval times (BBC, 2014), and for the last 20 years they have been expanding in the UK. Edith Lovegrove is one of the first Germans who decided to start her own Christmas German market in the UK and the reason why she decided this was mainly because: "I knew there wasn't anything like it in the UK, so I thought it was a good idea to transport something like that." (BBC, 2014). Clearly, it was a brilliant idea.
The fact that Christmas markets are doing so good, doesn’t mean that all other retail brands do good during Christmas too. For example, a brand that is considered a ‘loser’ during this season could be ‘House of Fraser’ as their in-store sales fell in 2.9% during the six weeks before 23rdDecember of 2017 while their online sales fell in 7.5%! (The Guardian, 2018) Other brands (not necessarily related to Christmas), however, do better during this time of the year in the UK. An example could be Tesco, who has reported that are aiming to increase their UK sales in 1.9% during the same period in 2018 (The Guardian, 2018). This basically reflects that there are also other external factor and seasonal features that favour certain brands/market and disfavour others.
Bottom line, Christmas markets are a good place to do your Christmas shopping while you tuck in a mince pie and chug one (or a couple) mulled wines. Even though they exist to generate revenue, incentive spending for the general population and replicate the traditional German markets, there is actually much more into it, such as ice rinks, fun fares, entertainers, etc. that do foment the family time, (when wanted). If I had to give my personal point of view about Christmas markets, I would recommend considering them as a solution for many people who don’t have the time or the place to spend some family Christmassy time in the stressful London and are passionate about Christmas. Nonetheless, I still believe that it is also vital to protect the family traditions and stay together regardless of the place, at least for some time during this season.
BBC, 2014. How German Christmas markets came to the UK.[online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30392324> [Accessed 5 December 2018].
· Centre for Retail Research, 2014. Christmas Markets: 2014 Review.[online] Available at: <http://www.retailresearch.org/christmasmarkets.php> [Accessed 5December2018].
· Goodtoknow.co.uk, 2018. The UK Best Christmas Markets 2018.[online] Available at: <https://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/family/best-christmas-markets-uk-285009> [Accessed 5December2018].
· Nabma, 2015. Christmas Markets: Bringing Markets Alive for New supporters.[online] Available at: <https://www.nabma.com/wp-
· Statista, 2018. UK Christmas Shopping. [online] Available at: <https://www.statista.com/topics/3157/uk-christmas-shopping/> [Accessed 5 December 2018].
· The Guardian, 2018. The UK Christmas retail Winners and Losers. [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/09/uk-christmas-retail-winners-profits> [Accessed 5 December 2018].
· content/uploads/2015/10/Christmas-Markets-ROI-Team-Report.pdf> [Accessed 5December2018].
· Statista, 2018. Number of visits to Christmas Markets in Europe in 2014, by country (in millions). [online] Available at: <https://www.statista.com/statistics/368779/christmas-markets-europe-visitor-numbers-by-country/> [Accessed 5 December 2018].