Christmas, or "German," markets are increasingly popular in towns across the UK. But with many bringing in European traders (and products), will that continue post-Brexit?by Rik Worth / November 27, 2019 / Leave a comment
Christmas, like Brexit, is on its way. That means across the UK, city centres will become temporary homes to festive miniature boroughs selling bratwurst, mulled wine in ceramic boots and endless yuletide brik-a-brak. The Christmas—or German—market has in the last few years become a staple of the Great British festive season. But how will leaving the European Union effect these continental celebrations—and what does that tell us about trade post-Brexit?
To understand any effect, we have to look at how such markets are organised. Each council work slightly differently—but there are three main methods for how they go about this.
The first is the event is organised in-house by a dedicated team with vendors applying for places at the event. The second method is that a private business provides the market on the council’s behalf (via a bespoke service and/or vendor applications) and the third is a similar system overseen by a partnered European council—hence “German Markets.”
Manchester is the northern powerhouse of Christmas markets. The oldest and largest in the UK and voted one of the best in Europe, it is built in-house. Dale Maybury, Head of Specialist and City Centre Markets for Manchester City Council spoke to Prospect about the change in vendors at their event. “We’re a Christmas Market rather than a ‘German’ market,” he said.
“We have had a lot of European traders in the past but that’s changed. The focus has shifted to local traders. Roughly, about 75 per cent of our vendors are from inside the UK and 80 per cent of those are from within 40 miles of Manchester.”
Maybury explains Manchester receives far more applications than it can grant. It has over 300 stalls (“only 59 non-UK traders. Mainly from Europe but there are a couple from Africa and one from India”) and any revenue generated goes back into Manchester city.
Luckily, Brexit is unlikely to affect markets organised in this manner and may even benefit UK trade. According to one report from the Local Government Association (LGA), Christmas markets generated around £500 million in 2017.
There are reasonable questions to be asked about the increased cost of supplies and restricted trade and travel affecting UK vendors but the reports notes “the impact of Brexit is unknown, but early fears about…