Brexit Uncertainty Threatens Leeds German Christmas Market

In Leeds, the Christkindelmarkt in Millennium Square remains one of the staples of Christmas time in the city. The market is one of the largest and longest-running Christmas markets in the UK. It is organised by the city of Frankfurt Am Main in Germany each year.

However, stall organisers and traders at the market in Millennium Square have concerns that the results of the UK voting to leave the European Union, as well as the ongoing political confusion, will negatively impact the number of customers.

“Last year we had some harassment, [with] people saying – ‘get out from here, you are not welcome’. They were laughing and leaving their leaflets on the stall”.

Sabrina, a trader from Spain, has worked at a hat and wool store in the market for seven years and confirmed that she has experienced a more hostile environment at the market since the EU Referendum.

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post in an interview about her poor treatment from the public: “Last year we had some harassment, [with] people saying – “get out from here, you are not welcome. They were laughing and leaving their leaflets on the stall”.

Not only has treatment of the traders been an issue recently, visitors at the event are less inclined to spend their money at the stalls, many of which are selling items from all over Europe and run by people from the EU, rather than the UK.

The owner of the same stall, originally from Germany, closed two of his stalls at Birmingham Christmas Market, due to a recent fall in sales.

Sabrina explains that this is surely down to uncertainty around Brexit in the UK, adding: “We were a bit worried and last year some of the sales were not as good. [We were not] selling as much, [at] the Leeds market, but for the moment it’s going okay.”

University of Leeds student Honey Butterworth, 19, continued to enjoy the market as it opened earlier in November this year. She hopes that the situation between the UK and the EU won’t stop the market returning in 2020.

She said: “I would hope [it would not have an effect] but I don’t know if it would have an impact on people here. I’m assuming that a lot of [the items at the market] are from all over Europe and there might be a potential impact on how much they can bring into the country, or it might slow down exports.”

By contrast, Joanne Taylor, a visitor to the Christkindelmarkt from Sheffield, talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, was unfazed: “I don’t think Brexit will impact the market. People are still going to spend [money] for Christmas.”

Director of the market Kurt Stroscher, based in Frankfurt am Main, says that whatever happens in the coming months with the Brexit situation, the German Market in Leeds will continue to return in the coming years.

He assured those worried about the situation, and said:

“I am confident that we will be able to deal with any challenges that might arise so that the Christkindelmarkt can continue to be part of the Leeds Christmas experience for many years to come.”

Image source: Pixabay