The Manchester Christmas Markets are in full swing, but this year there appears to be less consensus surrounding how fantastic they are.
Mark Gardner, Manchester Confidentials’ little pot of marmite, published a thought-provoking video last week where he wandered around the markets; sampling the produce and giving us his thoughts.
“Love Christmas – hate the rampant greed of the Christmas markets in Manchester” he states multiple times during his journey.
Mark makes a number of points, some of which have been echoed and debated on a few of our posts and videos about the 2018 Christmas markets.
One thing is for certain – the markets are dividing opinion this year. The purpose of this article is to explore some of the issues you’ve raised, and hopefully encourage a bit of healthy debate on the topic.
Personally, I have to agree with many of the points made here. I do find the prices charged my many of the stalls to be extortionate. Therefore – with the exception of a few of my favourites – I don’t spend my money there.
This raises the age old result of capitalism: supply, demand and equilibrium.
Why do bars in the Northern Quarter charge £5 for a pint, whilst just 1 mile away you can get one for £2.20 on Oxford Road?
Why do people eat out anywhere in Manchester, when they could eat tea for 75p a head from Aldi every night?
If people are willing to pay a certain price, that tends to be the price that a business will charge. Market forces tend to drop the price if quantity supplied exceeds quantity demanded, and prices rise if quantity demanded exceeds quantity supplied.
Does that make it acceptable to charge £8 for a mug of “Christmas Punch” that tastes like Ribena? Not in my eyes – but until people stop paying these outrageous prices, the prices simply won’t drop. They might even rise.
Traders From The North-West
Mark describes Manchester-based toastie legends Northern Soul as a “diamond in a coal mine” – making the claim that they are one of the few traders at the markets who are a local business from the North-West.
Statistics published by Manchester Evening News contradict this, claiming that around 70% of traders this year are from Manchester and the North West.
And there’s some bloody great North West ones at that. Personal favourites include Elsie May’s fabulous cookie dough stall, Porky Pig and their famous Yorkshire Pudding Wraps, Eat GreeK and their delicious gyros – and that’s just the hot food.
(It’s worth stating that there’s plenty of shite food at the markets, too. Just like the rest of Manchester and beyond – you’ve got to pick your spots)
So there’s certainly a fair amount of money staying in the region. Add to that the money put into the local economy through rent, and by overseas traders who pay to live and get by in Manchester for a month. Plus the additional tourists coming into Manchester, and the staff who are payed to work at the stalls themselves – and you’ve got a strong case to say that local businesses, people and the council are benefiting from the existence of the Christmas markets.
Generally, the prices charged by traders at the markets are much higher than the cost of similar quality goods and food elsewhere in Manchester. However, the markets continue to be as busy as they’ve ever been. Until the general public change their spending behaviour, we can’t expect the prices to drop.
Whilst there are some European stalls making a profit at the markets, they are paying their way and contributing to the local economy. Additionally, 7 out of 10 stalls at the Christmas markets this year are made up of local Manchester and North-West based businesses.
These views are entirely my own – and I’m very keen to hear yours. Are there enough North-West based traders at the Christmas markets? Do the markets offer good value for money? If you’ve been, did you enjoy the markets this year? Or do you refuse to go?
Let’s hear it.