Lincoln Christmas Market expected to quadruple trade for independent businesses

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The Lincoln Christmas Market has entered its second day and independent businesses have already benefitted from the additional footfall, with many expecting to at least quadruple trade for the four days.

The famous market is expected to bring around 250,000 people to Lincoln by the end of the weekend, with nearly 300 stalls set up in the historic section of the city showcasing their wares.

However local businesses also benefit from the increased footfall from organised day trips and special steam train journeys, which travel to the city.

Richard Baxter. Photo: Sarah Harrison-Barker for Lincolnshire Business

Richard Baxter, Chairman of Steephill Independence and owner of Goodies of Lincoln. Photo: Sarah Harrison-Barker for Lincolnshire Business

Richard Baxter, chairman of Steephill Independence and owner of Goodies of Lincoln on The Strait, has had a store at the bottom of Steep Hill for 18 years supplying a range of sweets.

He said: “The money that we make from the Christmas Market, here in Lincoln just goes through to cover the bills in January. We’ll probably do around a month’s sales in four days over the weekend.

“It’s vital for it to keep going because it’s so important to all businesses, not just independent businesses, even the bigger store like Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser, they need it as well as we do.

“It’s a great atmosphere.”

Claire Brown, Co-owner of The Crafty Bottle. Photo: Sarah Harrison-Barker for Lincolnshire Business

Claire Brown, Co-owner of The Crafty Bottle. Photo: Sarah Harrison-Barker for Lincolnshire Business

Other businesses in the area are experiencing the Christmas Market for the first time, such as the Crafty Bottle, which opened in February.

Claire Brown, co-owner of the store, said: “We didn’t really know what to expect, because it’s our first year. We have picked up lots of tips from fellow traders on the street but so far so good.

I’d like to say it would quadruple business for us over the weekend and I would definitely say that on Thursday, we hit higher than a Saturday target.

“All the stock rooms are full of beer, so fingers crossed, they’ll be empty on Monday.”

Many independent businesses rely heavily on the additional trade to be able to survive as the number of High Street shoppers declines.

According to a recent report, more than half of startup businesses in Greater Lincolnshire do not survive three years.

Bird’s Yard, a unique shop on The Strait opened a week before the last Christmas Market and owner Michelle Walton is hoping this year to boost trade by providing a little encouragement for visitors attempting the climb up the hill.

Photo: Sarah Harrison-Barker for Lincolnshire Business

Owner of Bird’s Yard Michelle Walton. Photo: Sarah Harrison-Barker for Lincolnshire Business

She said: “As a new shop in Lincoln it’s been quite a tough year, so a lot is riding on the market to be honest.

“Last year, if one person came in, then lots of people came in but you could have an hour or two where nobody was in here. So this year, I got an events licence to sell shots of booze as a gimmick to help get people up the hill.

“What I gather from other shops is that none of them do amazingly well, so they rely on the Christmas Market to bump up that trade so that they can relax a little bit in January and February.”

When the Christmas Market was cancelled in 2010 due to an unforgettable winter where snow and ice caused too many safety concerns, local businesses really felt the impact making it hard for them to make ends meet during the quieter months.

“When it was cancelled because of the bad snow, it was awful,” Richard said. “It probably took us about three months to pay suppliers and then there was the one way system, every time we have a Christmas Market, we make sure that’s not going to happen again. That was a total disaster.

“I’m pretty sure the city council will not organise a one way system again.”