The Christmas Market comes to Bournemouth.

Wallis Edwards selling stockings in the run up to the big Christmas Shop.

Bournemouth’s Christmas Market opens today – and traders are hopeful of a good season despite the recession.

Despite the latest unemployment and inflation figures, and amidst the backdrop of recession, people are enjoying the festive atmosphere and already starting their Christmas shopping.

Stallholder Wallis Edwards, 21, who runs a stall selling Christmas stockings and other festive gifts, said:

“This is our second year of being at the market. We’ve tried to keep more of a range of prices this year, to reflect the recession – but if people want something I think they’ll buy it anyway”.

The annual festive offering runs through until Christmas Eve.

Have a Thrifty Christmas And An Austere New Year

Shoppers and traders in Bournemouth say they are bracing themselves for a thrifty Christmas and an austere New Year.

Increased inflation and the prospect of a VAT hike to 20p in the pound in the New Year have taken the edge off the festive spirit for some people.

Nigel Hedges, President of Bournemouth Trade and Commerce, said: “I don’t think anyone knows what they’re doing.

“If inflation gets out of hand, we have a serious problem. The VAT increase is the most overriding point – do prices go up or down?” he added.

The latest figures on inflation are based on November’s figures and they show a rise in consumer price inflation of 0.1% to 3.3% and in the retail price index rose of 4.5% to 4.7%.

As the figures were released Andrew Sentance, from the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, warned this was “just the beginning”.

VAT is also set to rise from 17.5% to 20% from January 4th.

But after two years of budgeting in a recession people in Bournemouth don’t feel that inflation has directly affected their Christmas shopping. But there are concerns about the VAT rise in January.

Alison Lowton, 28, who works in sales, said: “Things are going to be a bit tight but in this current economic climate we have to face a VAT rise, so it’s better just to accept it.”

Another shopper, Collier, 59, said: “All my friends and family are cutting back. The VAT increase does worry me, particularly the price of petrol. Also supermarket food prices are going up and up and up.”

Fuel costs are of particular concern with petrol  prices in Bournemouth amongst the highest in southern England. The BP garage at Spur End in Castle Lane East was charging 148.9p last month for Ultimate Unleaded Petrol.

Bournemouth Christmas Market Trades On Despite The Wind And Rain

Traders at Bournemouth’s Christmas market are remaining optimistic despite “appalling” weather conditions.

Sales had been expected to pick up as people were drawn into town for the Christmas lights switch on, but torrential rain last Saturday meant many people stayed away and traders predict they lost two to three hours trading time.

The Bavarian market, which is returning for the fifth year, sprang up in Bournemouth’s town square in November, is now in its second week of trading and will run until January 3, 2010.

Manager of the Christmas market’s chalet bar, Moh Salim, said: “The weather has been appalling and it really affected business over the weekend.”

Traders are hoping that later opening hours from December 12 will boost sales before Christmas. Owner of shop Papaya in the market, Sarah Chettle said: “Money is tight this year, but people like to buy something different and unique.”

Other attractions at the market will include an appearance by Father Christmas on December 20. When he will be touring around the town centre with his two red-nosed reindeer, one of who is called Rudolf.

‘Multicultural Mix’ Replaced by ‘Local Feel’

Bournemouth Will be Spectacular This ChristmasBournemouth Will be Spectacular This Christmas

Bournemouth’s ‘global’ Christmas market is leaving behind traders from overseas to promote a 2009 Christmas of local retail.

The well renowned market, now in its sixth year, is introducing ‘The Bournemouth Festive Village’ in a bid to create a Christmas experience ‘like never before’.

With Britain feeling the pinch of recession, locally sourced stalls and traders are an interesting choice, one Roger Parker of Bournemouth Town Centre Management hopes ‘will create a more local feel’.

He explained the Christmas market ‘allows people to enjoy the Christmas ambience in Bournemouth’, and he is ‘keen to have a focal point in the town’ over the festive period.

With the promise of an economic boost from the 2012 Olympics still on the horizon, this Christmas is important for Bournemouth and the country. Roger Parker placed emphasis on the ‘local craft business’ aspect of the event despite being marketed as a ‘multicultural mix’.

One concern for the town centre residents lies with the brand new ‘Alpine Chalet style bar’ with beer garden. Worries of anti-social behaviour were quashed by Town Centre Management saying they ‘have never had trouble in the past with drink’.

Roger Parker reminded residents ‘there will be no children in the bar, it is over 18s only and we have chosen the opening times so not to coincide with pub and club hours’.

The town will experience Britain’s biggest bauble as the Bournemouth eye, usually kept grounded throughout the proceedings, is decorated with lights and flown above the south coast.

The British theme continues with Victorian carriages pulled by horses through the square, a nativity scene and a carousel for children.  The town’s lower gardens will be turned into a ‘winter wonderland’ including reindeer, an ice slide and an ice wall.

Three types of German sausage and the aroma of chestnuts roasting on an open fire will also feature in what is a crucial time for Bournemouth retailers.

Based on evidence of a locally weighted market however, it could be the smell of money most anticipated by organisers over its duration.