Over 3.3m people visited Manchester throughout the festive period, bringing a £74.3 million boost for the local economy.
According to city-centre chiefs, Manchester benefitted from its ‘best Christmas yet’ as shoppers, tourists and festive-fun seekers helped to offset economic concern.
The new figures show the financial benefit of winter events was up by 43 per cent from 2009; the Christmas markets alone encouraged 1.5m people to visit the city.
Elsewhere, Piccadilly Gardens’ festive funfair attracted more than 70,000 and 42,000 used the Spinningfields ice rink. More than 20,000 attended the November lights switch-on in Albert Square, as UK grime artist Tinchy Stryder and Girls Aloud northerner Nicola Roberts headlined.
During the aftermath of the August riots, the council drew plans to spend £336,000 on Christmas lights and utilised a £62,000 from the government’s riot recovery fund.
A spokesperson for Councillor Pat Karney said: “High streets up and down the country have struggled through a year of economic difficulty, which is why in Manchester we work so hard to keep the city centre an exciting destination – keeping the streets bustling and the shops busy.”
Shops enjoyed an increase in trade of nearly a third as a rise in customer numbers, combined with a rise in the average customer spend, continued the city’s year-on-year growth for key shopping areas.
Councillors have hailed Manchester as a ‘destination of choice’ for shoppers, amidst recent concerns about the price of local parking. The spokesperson continued: “This report confirms Manchester’s position as the number one Christmas destination in the UK.”
Metrolink saw ticket sales increase 15 percent compared to the 2010 Christmas period. Earlier in the year road congestion was eased with the completion of lines to MediaCityUK and St Werburgh’s Road.