AS Galway’s first international Christmas market draws to a close this weekend, business chiefs in the city have hailed it as a marvellous success which drew tens of thousands of shoppers to the city.
Over the past two weekends, the city streets have been thronged with shoppers and despite the inclement weather this weekend is set to be the busiest of the year.
The market at the square will be dismantled early next week and City Council crews will begin work on rehabilitating the Square. Council officials confirmed this week that a €10,000 bond had been posted by the organisers to cover the cost of any damage to the turf and facilities at the Square, and meetings to review the market and to consider a repeat next year will take place in the middle of January.
Galway City Council reports that the park and ride system set up to facilitate Christmas shoppers and visitors to the markets was busier than ever before for the past two weeks and that demand for the service which operates from Galway Racecourse will be exceptionally heavy this weekend.
Preliminary findings from a survey taken over a two-week period at the market have revealed that thousands of shoppers came from all over the country especially because of the market and that not only did they shop at Eyre Square but at outlets throughout the town.
The Galway City Business Association was the driving force behind the market and its chairman Paul Faller said that it elongated the Christmas shopping period in the city and that all businesses are feeling the benefit of this.
"The footfall was up and the numbers of those using the park and ride facility were up. Surveys we had undertaken in the market have shown that people came from all over the country specifically because of the Christmas market. And they have stayed in local hotels and B&Bs and have shopped right through the town and not just in Eyre Square. These findings justify the market and show what a success it has been, despite losing a week to the weather,” he said.
However, the success of Christmas shopping in Galway will only be determined by local shoppers. "Local business depends on local people getting out and shopping in their community and we are calling on people to do that in the coming days and weeks.
He said that the GCBA is endeavoring to come up with projects that will attract more people to do their business in Galway, and the market was the pinnacle of a successful year on that front,” adding that attracting other lucrative events to Galway is high on the GCBA's agenda for next year.
President of Galway Chamber Carmel Brennan also felt that the market was a great business driver.
She said “the market in Eyre Square was a tremendous success and created a massive footfall in the city in the past few weeks, and this was despite losing a week to the frosty weather. It was as if Christmas had come four weeks early and this was welcome because of the budget, people needed something to hold on to because in January, people are going to get a shock in their wage packets. But if we stick together and keep our spending local, we can get through this.”.