January 23, 2022

How are Christmas markets adapting to the pandemic?

Christmas markets |
In the midst of a pandemic, how are the Christmas markets adapting to the various health measures? | Source: Getty Images

CHRISTMAS MARKETS | In 2020, the various lockdowns decreed before Christmas dealt a devastating blow to the thousands of craft and independent businesses that generally rely on the stands of Christmas markets to ensure their income during the holiday season.


For these businesses, Christmas markets are a chance to meet their customers in person. For example, in the UK, markets are a key part of the craft sector, which contributes £ 3.4 billion to the country’s economy and employs nearly 150,000 people.

Last year, the markets had to adapt: ​​some events had to set up attendance gauges, while others were simply canceled. This year, we hope for a gradual return to “normal”, but the Omicron variant and the health situation in Europe call for more caution.

How do exhibitors and Christmas market planners continue to adapt to changing customer demands and government directives?

By changing their working methods

Sinead Koehler, Founder and Director of Crafty Fox Market, explains how the markets have evolved over the past year and how they have overcome shorter lead times as well as many uncertainties: “We had to think more about the suitability of the places in terms of space. available and ventilation. We did not organize a market for the first six months of the year. The return to physics is therefore quite recent. We had an online Christmas market this year and we still operate on a partially hybrid model ”.

Nicki Capewell, founder of Pedddle, a community of independent and creative markets, agrees: “Markets have had to adapt many times throughout the year with the various health measures taken by the government [britannique], but the organizers and exhibitors handled the situation very well. This Christmas, the markets seem to have returned to a certain normality ”.

By arousing the enthusiasm of consumers

For organizers and market exhibitors, knowing whether consumers want to return to busy Christmas shopping events is critical. For Sinead Koehler, the answer is unequivocally yes, because of the human bond inherent in Christmas markets.

“There is real enthusiasm in reconnecting,” explains the founder and director of Crafty Fox Market. In addition, there is a real desire on the part of consumers to support independent businesses and buy local: “Our manufacturers have been well received by consumers, which is great. I think the message “shop small“Is stronger than ever this year”.

Sinead Koehler also explains that while online shopping is definitely inevitable, the in-person shopping experience remains important for many consumers: “Online shopping has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic. However, there is nothing quite like being able to chat directly with the manufacturer and see the products before you buy them ”.

By focusing on hybrid events

In the future, hybrid events will not disappear, on the contrary. This development is welcomed by many. “Some markets are starting to host online events alongside their physical markets, and this is a concept we would like to see extended to many markets, as it primarily addresses access issues,” says Nicki. Capewell.

“There are many who isolate themselves or cannot attend events in person. Having the opportunity to visit an event online is a fantastic opportunity and helps broaden the scope of an event, ”continues Nicki Capewell.

For Sinead Koehler, this hybridization was already present before the pandemic: “We have always put our lists of traders on our website with links to the online stores of the manufacturers before the markets, because this generates more purchases for our manufacturers. “.

The current challenge for Christmas markets or for retailers is to continue to converge these online and offline experiences. The best way to guard against new lockdowns, new restrictions or a drop in attendance is to bet on a hybrid model.

We must therefore combine the pleasure of discovery offered by Christmas markets with the personal touch that results from a real link between the artist (or the manufacturer) and the consumer. Finally, the consumer must be able to experience both aspects online and in person.

Article translated from Forbes US – Author: Catherine Erdly

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