Retail drive hopes tills are ringing out for Christmas

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The biggest ever campaign to bring Christmas shoppers to Edinburgh is being planned.

Marketing Edinburgh has announced that it is preparing a programme that will exceed the £800,000 it spent on the Edinburgh Sparkles campaign in each of the last two years.

The campaign’s focus will turn to the north-east of England, in the hope that more “short break” tourists can be attracted to the city in the run-up to Christmas, following criticism last year at the decision to focus on London and the south-east of England.

Shoppers across the central belt and in Edinburgh itself will also be targeted in a bid to help retailers overcome the economic downturn and any perception that tram works will make the city unattractive to visit during the festive season.

A series of Edinburgh’s biggest retailers have also agreed to open later than normal in the four week run-up to Christmas.

Discussions are also currently taking place about how to take advantage of the temporarily pedestrianised Princes Street, where tram work will be halted from November 23.

Graham Bell, a spokesman for Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “I do not know many people that would travel from London to Edinburgh just to go Christmas shopping.

“The north-east and north-west have areas of considerable population and money to spend and it is much easier for them to come to Edinburgh for the day or overnight.

“The retail sector is relatively buoyant compared to some other sectors and the tourism market is doing better than most, so this campaign could help.”

The campaign, which will promote the Hogmanay street party as well as the festive shopping offering, is expected to include prime-time TV advertising and billboard adverts in some of the key target towns and cities.

It will work within tourism agency VisitScotland’s existing £3.5 million Surprise Yourself campaign and include additional marketing specifically for Edinburgh.

Lucy Bird, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said: “We can confirm that an exciting marketing campaign has been planned to highlight the many reasons why this festive season will be particularly special for the city. More information on what’s happening will be released in the coming weeks.”

Manuela Calchini, regional director for VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted to be working with Marketing Edinburgh, highlighting the fantastic festive things to see and do on a break as part of our Surprise Yourself campaign – from shopping in the German market to enjoying the spectacular fireworks display at Edinburgh Castle.”

mblackley@edinburghnews.com