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Gloucestershire Business News

VIDEO: Shops urged to open up during Cheltenham Christmas market

A call for Cheltenham's established retailers to open in the evenings during the period of the town's Christmas market has come from a senior planning consultant.

David Jones, managing director of Evans Jones, took a tour of the outdoor Christmas market on the Promenade with Punchline editor Mark Owen last night.

Mr Jones said: "I talk regularly about repurposing the high street and what we can do to bring increased footfall back to the high street. For me, markets of this nature are critical to increase footfall and to bring people back to the high street and spending not just in the great stalls we have here but in established retailers.

"Research has shown that markets like this can increase footfall by about 60 per cent in the Christmas period. I think the sad thing is we've got Cavendish House and various other retailers which are closed. We're still operating on a retail model that was established in the 19th Century. Why aren't these retailers open?

"There's got to be some acceptance that to repurpose the high street as we all want to see let's get the retailers operating different working hours."

Mr Jones said he had noticed that in the mornings, Cheltenham's shops were generally pretty quiet.

"It's not necessarily about employing people for longer hours, it's shifting their hours of working. Why shouldn't these places be open?"

Mr Jones said Christmas markets in the UK had grown exponentially In the 10 years from 2007 from about 30 to well over 100.

"It's a proven method of driving people but we just need our established retailers to accept it's not all about the market - it's about bringing people here and if we bring people here they will spend elsewhere. But all credit to Cheltenham. It's a great venue and a great opportunity for Cheltenham. It's created a vibrancy and activity and that has got to be good."

Punchline chatted to two of the many stallholders at the Christmas market.

Cheltenham-based Abi Walker, owner of Soup Cans, won a competition run by operators Market Place Europe called Pitch Perfect, giving one lucky new business an invaluable opportunity to showcase their products to new audiences. Selling gender neutral clothing, all their tee's and sweatshirts are Fair Trade certified, organic and 100% cotton.

Abi said: 'I usually sell online so this is an amazing opportunity to get my products in front of people so they can feel the quality. The fact that I design all the clothing, which is organic and ethically made, makes a real difference to shoppers.

"People have been so interested in the story behind my business. My ethos is to stop labelling people - labels are for soup cans!

"I've always loved fashion and I decided to take the plunge and go for it. Business is actually very good."

Abi's top business tips are "go for it, always be polite and just talk to people whenever you can."

We also caught up with Sherelle Phillips, from Bishops Cleeve, who was selling personalised Christmas decorations from her stall.

She said: "You can choose any decoration you like and I will personalise it for you. People who have got names that you don't usually find, are very lucky because they can get any name they like put onto any decoration they like."

Sherelle said business had been really good so far. "Now I am going to sell all the decorations to the people of Cheltenham."

Belinda Hunt, Cheltenham BID operations manager said: 'This is the first time the BID has brought this market to Cheltenham. We have coach parties booked to come from Wales, Manchester and the Midlands so are looking forward to welcoming locals and visitors from further afield to the Cheltenham Christmas market."

Open every day until 19 December, the market offers a great selection of gifts, food and drink. From handmade wooden and personalised ceramic Christmas decorations to winter boots and handmade cotton clothing, there's something to suit all tastes and budgets. Food from around the world includes exotic burgers, German sausages and Gluhwein, crepes and Belgian waffles, mead and gin, Hot chocolate and chocolaty treats.

The market runs from Monday - Wednesday 10am -7pm, Thursday - Saturday 10am-9pm and Sunday 12-6pm.

To contact Evans Jones, call 01242 522822 or visit https://www.evansjones.co.uk/our-locations/cheltenham.php 

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