Glasgow is reporting a record Christmas trading period following an upsurge in festive shoppers and revellers visiting the city in recent weeks.
Year-on-year footfall in the city centre for the pre-Christmas shopping period, between November 25 and December 19, rose by more than 113,000 to 4.7 million people – more than the populations of Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle combined.
Retailers have also reported extremely strong trading, both in the run up to Christmas and across the Boxing Day sales. Sales at John Lewis Glasgow were up 6.6% on last year in the three days before Christmas while retailers in the city’s Princes Square have reported their busiest sales period for years as consumers try to bag a bargain.
Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) believes the strength of the city’s festive marketing campaign, Glasgow Loves Christmas, combined with city centre retailers extending their opening hours to 7pm on weeknights has had a positive impact on festive trading.
Scott Taylor, Chief Executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “Glasgow has enjoyed a record Christmas trading period. The city’s retailers, together with our restaurants, hotels and operators across the tourism and leisure sectors, have made a clear statement that Glasgow is open for business and Glaswegians and visitors alike have been drawn by the strength of the city’s festive offering.
“Retailers benefited from a spell of mild weather in the lead up to Christmas, which encouraged shoppers to get out onto the style mile early, while the decision by more than 200 city centre retailers to stay open later has proved to be the right one; giving shoppers the chance to browse and buy longer. This in turn has undoubtedly had a positive knock on effect for the city’s restaurants, which have seen a strong jump in revenue.”
“Additionally, since early November, our Glasgow Loves Christmas marketing campaign has delivered extensive exposure across TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising, positioning the city as a must-visit destination for shoppers and festive revellers across the central belt.”
To encourage people from the North of England to visit Glasgow for Christmas shopping, GCMB also worked in partnership with Virgin Trains to market a special Christmas Shopper ticket offering a discounted fare between the two cities which resulted in 29% growth in rail travel between Carlisle and Glasgow, compared to the same time last year.
Gary Iddon, Virgin Trains' General Manager for North England and Scotland, says: "We're delighted that so many people have taken advantage of our Shopper Ticket and the fast, frequent services we have between Carlisle and Glasgow.
"We hope we've raised awareness of just how convenient and easy it is to get to Glasgow - one of the best shopping destinations in the UK - which is just over an hour away by train."
Meanwhile, revellers and businesses enjoying Christmas parties also helped to boost the city’s strong revenues with party bookings across the hotel sector rising 13% on 2012.
Philip Mellor, General Manager of Menzies Hotel and Co-Chair of the Greater Glasgow Hotels Association (GGHA) said: “The festive cheer is certainly back in Glasgow’s hotels this year with several of our members reporting real growth in trading throughout December.”
David Allan, General Manager of the city’s five-star Radisson Blu Hotel, added: “We’ve seen tremendous year-on-year growth over the festive period. Beverage spending in particular has improved dramatically; it’s at least 15% up against 2012.”
Likewise, restaurant revenue was up 3% on 2012. Ryan James, Chair of the Glasgow Restaurant Association (GRA), said: “The general consensus among members is that trade has been better than it has been for years across both Christmas parties and festive dining. Hogmanay bookings are also up with more people choosing to come into the city centre to enjoy a meal rather than stay at home.
“Extended store opening hours has also been great news for Glasgow’s night-time economy as its enticed shoppers, visitors and people finishing work to remain in the city centre for dinner or a few drinks, especially over the festive period.”
And it doesn’t stop there as Glasgow is preparing for a bumper Hogmanay. A sample survey conducted by GCMB of 10 major hotels in the city centre, representing more than 3,000 rooms, shows that hoteliers are predicting a sell-out, with occupancy expected between 95 and 100% on New Year’s Eve.
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