Cancellation of Harrogate Christmas market 'will cost economy £2.7million'
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The popular town centre attraction - which many businesses bank on to boost their festive funds and fetches more than 80,000 visitors - was called off because of Covid-19, although organisers have moved the market online with a website promoting stall holders and their offerings.
The annual event would have been held for four days in mid-November and according to a study carried out by Where the Trade Buys, its cancellation will come at a cost of £2.7million to the town's economy.
The calculation was based on the presumption that each visitor would have spent £34 on food, drink and gifts at the market organised by a group of volunteers headed-up by Brian Dunsby.
Mr Dunsby said volunteers were "tremendously disappointed" that the event was cancelled but added they look forward to welcoming back businesses and festive shoppers next year.
He said: "The market is vital to Harrogate businesses and it also benefits many charities with thousands of pounds raised for local causes each year.
"We are very disappointed that it had to be cancelled but we understand why and look forward to next year."
Sandra Doherty, chief executive of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, said the market does not only benefit stall holders, but also surrounding hospitality businesses which usually enjoy a surge of visitors to the town.
“This £2.7m figure should not be looked at in isolation, but as part of a bigger picture to just how much money has been lost to the local economy in recent months," she said.
“November is one of the busiest months of the year for events at Harrogate Convention Centre, with hotels and local guest houses fully booked for a large part of it.
“Bring into the equation the fact that the retail and leisure industry have been in lockdown for a whole month, I’d say the figure of £2.7m barely scratches the surface.”
Sara Ferguson, the acting chair of Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID), added: “The cancellation of this year’s Christmas Market, which brings in thousands of shoppers to Harrogate over the four days, is just one of the many blows dealt to the town’s economy by the coronavirus virus.
“Whilst the report only counts the financial cost of its cancellation, the bigger picture is far bleaker. November’s lockdown has been particularly hard for the hospitality and retail sectors, at a time when they are usually experiencing some of their busiest weeks.”
Organisers are using the event's social media platforms to repost reopening businesses and shops hit by another four weeks of closures during the second national lockdown.
They are also calling on the public to support traders as much as possible in the run up to Christmas.
The organisers said online: "This is a free service, even for the market traders, who have not been charged to be included in our online Virtual Harrogate Christmas Market.
"If everyone helps each other we can all get through this together."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter