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Traders ‘holding their own’ in spite of tough conditions as number of people visiting Gravesend went up nearly 14% during December

Christmas in Gravesend proved to be a big success with the number of people visiting the town going up nearly 14% during December, figures have revealed.

A report will be put before councillors next Monday to “provide a summary report of the Christmas Strategy for Gravesham”.

It says: “The footfall figures for Gravesend town centre show quite clearly an improvement in numbers from the middle of November to end of December.

“While we know that the retail industry is still feeling the effects of the recession and competition from internet shopping, the figures still show that Gravesend town centre is holding its own and still is performing better than other town centres.”

It was back in March last year that the council’s ‘Christmas Strategy’ was presented to the Christmas Cross Party Working Group. Out of it came the 12 Days of Christmas series of events which were held in the town across the festive season.

The Christmas in Gravesend website managed to rack up over 12,000 hits while the council’s Facebook and YouTube accounts went from 5,800 hits to 26,650 and 3,200 to 9,441 respectively.

Another of the successes was Christoph Bull’s guided tour of the old courthouse in King Street which drew an ‘unexpectedly large crowd’ of 80.

There were hopes that Gravesham could scoop the world record for the number of people dressed as elves.

Unfortunately the report says: “Whilst we broke the original record by 948 elves congregating on the Community Square, we have since been notified by the Guinness Book of Records that 1,110 elves was achieved by Stockeld Park and Martin House Children’s Hospice, Wetherby.”

Artiom Prigozhiy from Specsavers and Joe Hall from McDonalds in the Pantomime Cow race
Artiom Prigozhiy from Specsavers and Joe Hall from McDonalds in the Pantomime Cow race

Work has already begun on this year’s Christmas plans and although there is no word on what will be happening, it is possible the pantomime cow race will be held again.

The report says: “It was a shame that more firms didn’t get involved with the pantomime cow race, but again, if repeated has the potential to grow and if repeated if may be an idea to invite sports clubs to get involved on the day.”

It added: “It was reassuring to hear that businesses which included BHS, Debenhams, Boots, Thamesgate Centre and McDonald’s all reported excellent Christmas trading, with Debenhams adding that the Gravesend store was the top store of the town centre stores for sales. In addition following good work in the town by the Community Safety Partnership and GSafe shoplifting was at its lowest for many years.”

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