A Christmas Market success?

Many city centre residents have an ambivalent attitude to Bath’s Christmas Market. We appreciate that the crowds it attracts boosts trade at restaurants, cafes and other retail businesses throughout the city centre, as well as providing income for the Christmas stallholders, of course. Many of us also enjoy the seasonal atmosphere it brings to the city. On the other hand, the large crowds and proliferation of stalls, temporary toilets, bins, power generators etc. are undoubtedly disruptive for residents living in and around the streets that host the market.

In an effort to quantify the economic benefits to the city, the council this year commissioned a survey of 900 visitors to the market (any city centre residents?) and issued a press release pronouncing the 2022 market a “resounding success”. The press release highlights the following survey results:

75% who visited Bath over the period came solely because of the Christmas market

37%stayed for an average of 2.4 nights

74% shopped outside the market

79% ate a meal in a local restaurant

48% came on foot or used public transport

The council has subsequently said that the 2022 market attracted an estimated 426,000 visitors over the 18-day event (up from 403,000 in 2019). The associated additional spend was estimated at approximately £34.3 million, compared to £25 million in 2019, resulting in a total business turnover for Bath of approximately £50.7million – compared to £31.5million in 2019.

All of which sounds great but, bearing in mind that this is now a council-run event, there’s no detail given of the financial and other costs – both direct and indirect – to the city’s residents. A more considered and measured analysis is, presumably, available somewhere at the council. We will endeavour to find out.