13 February 2020| | 2 min read
Research shows Christmas markets are heading in the right direction
Newcastle’s new Christmas markets were a success, independent research has found, but it has also highlighted areas in need of improvement.
Newcastle City Council and NE1, the city’s business improvement district, commissioned a local independent research company Eljay Research to look in detail at what people thought of the markets, how many people visited and the economic impact they had on the city.
800 people were interviewed in on-site face-to-face surveys, visitor counts took place at the stalls and rides, extensive secondary research compared figures from Newcastle and further afield, and an online survey provided further information into people’s opinions.
The research found 90% of visitors interviewed talked positively about the markets, with almost 60% rating them very positively. This is compared to only 8% of those interviews rating them as fair or very poor.
Some other headline findings show that:
- The Christmas Markets in 2019 attracted around 2.78 million visits. This figure is a significant increase from the last research from the 2016 Christmas market, which estimated the visitor numbers at 1 million.
- A high proportion of visitors (73%) were from outside of Newcastle (compared to 59% in 2016) The majority of these were from across the North East.
- Almost 30% visitors spent more than an hour on-site.
- Around 80% of respondents visited the markets between one and three times.
- The aspects of the markets that came out as most popular were the specific stalls/attractions and rides (32%), appearance (29%) and its increased size (25%).
- The economic impact on the city of the Christmas Markets is calculated at almost £70 million. This figure is based on the money spent in the city centre by those who came primarily to visit the Christmas markets.
- If this is calculated using those who came into the city primarily for other reasons, the overall economic benefit is calculated at over £228 million.
Although the findings of this research were favourable, 60% of visitors interviewed on-site suggested at least one improvement, and both the council and NE1 accept there are lots of ways the Christmas markets can be improved in the coming years.
Cllr Ged Bell, Cabinet member for employment and culture said: “This research shows the city’s new expanded Christmas markets were in general very popular with those that visited them. This has given us a very solid basis to improve the event in future years.
“There is a need for a greater diversity of stalls, and we would like to encourage more local traders to be part of the markets. Many people said they thought certain areas were congested, and as part of our ambition to make the city carbon neutral by 2030, we are aiming to reduce the number of generators used at the markets by at least 50%.
“Overall, we have been very encouraged by this positive research, which is in line with many of the comments I have seen on social media, in the press and in my conversations with many.
“Year one was always going to a blueprint for the Christmas markets, and we are now talking and listening to businesses, traders and visitors on what we can put in place to make this and future years festive offer even better.”
Stephen Patterson, Director of Communications for NE1 Ltd said: “The strength of positive views towards the market is good and shows the city is on the right track.
“What is most encouraging is that a large proportion of those who visited the market suggested improvements for future years, illustrating both the demand for this type of festive offer and the opportunities available to us.
“Christmas 2019 was considered the most challenging for retail nationally since records began. It is therefore very encouraging that Newcastle experienced it’s busiest Sunday and second busiest Saturday ever in terms of footfall during the Christmas markets.
“The best cities are constantly changing and evolving, and Newcastle is no different. We will continue to work closely with the council, Mellors and businesses to make sure the city’s festive offer is even better in years to come.”
Neill Winch, Group Chief Executive, Danieli Holdings, owners of Stack believes the new Christmas markets were a great addition to the Christmas offer in Newcastle. He said: “It's great to see that the city is fully embracing Christmas and looking for ways to attract footfall into the city centre at a time when shopping behaviours are changing, and people are looking for experiences.'
“This was only the second Christmas that Stack Newcastle has been in operation, and we have seen a huge increase in sales year on year.
“The popularity of Stack has grown immensely in the last 12 months, and we have no doubt seen an uplift as a direct result of the Christmas market attracting more visitors into the city centre.”
This research shows the city’s new expanded Christmas markets were in general very popular with those that visited them. This has given us a very solid basis to improve the event in future years.
There is a need for a greater diversity of stalls, and we would like to encourage more local traders to be part of the markets. Many people said they thought certain areas were congested, and as part of our ambition to make the city carbon neutral by 2030, we are aiming to reduce the number of generators used at the markets by at least 50%.
Cllr Ged Bell
Cabinet member for employment and culture