St Nicholas market popular this year
Traders in York are saying that they have had a very good period in the run up to Christmas. The St Nicholas market has attracted coachloads of visitors, while the Christmas lights displays have been generally applauded.
Special events like the display in the Museum Gardens have added to the festive spirit.
The number of people on the streets has been high during late November and December although the final figures won’t be known until after the holiday.
But, of course, everything is relative with overall visitor numbers, as measured by “footfall” cameras, broadly the same as they were 7 years ago.
There are of course peaks and troughs. There was distinct peak, for example, when the Tour de France visited York in 2014. But that boost was largely transient.
Some will point out that there are parts of the City centre which have been neglected. Duncombe Place is an unexploited opportunity, particularly at Christmas time, while Exhibition Square (outside the Art Gallery), is too often a deserted and windswept place.
Parliament Street remains a visual embarrassment made worst this year by the ugly shipping container village.
Footfall in Coney Street has shown the biggest fall with long term empty shop units mainly to blame.
Nor does footfall always translate into economic activity although several attractions, including The Minster and Merchant Adventurers Hall, are reporting a 5 year high in visitors.
January and February may give a more realistic set of figures on which to measure whether the City centre is bouncing back from the recession and changes to shopping habits.
We hope that it is.
Footfall trend in key shopping streets
Footfall in Parliament Street