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THE first Christmas market to be held in Salisbury is bringing a massive boost to the city, according to traders.

The market opened for business in the Guildhall Square on Thursday and business owners say it has led to more visitors and an increase in trade.

Mark Bramley, from the Red Lion Hotel, said: “We have seen a sevenfold increase, particularly on Saturday when we were absolutely hammered. I’ve been here three years and I’ve never seen it so busy.”

And Laura Watts from Stoby’s fish and chip shop added: “We have definitely been busier and it’s a double whammy on market days. The feedback from everyone who has been is all positive.”

Silvia Kerestesova, who works at Patisserie Valerie, said she has noticed an increase in the number of tourists. “It has definitely been busier and tourists have been coming in and asking us where the market is,” she said.

Traders from the charter market have also welcomed the increase in visitors to the city, with many having their busiest Saturday of the year.

Daniel Rimer, from Wilton Wholefoods, said: “We are very, very busy. We have definitely noticed more people in town and lots of new faces, which can only be a good thing. On Saturday we had our best day here for quite some time.”

Butcher Gary Hughes said: “I think it has done really well. I was a bit dubious at first but they have done a lot of advertising and I am all for it.”

And fellow market trader John Bourne said: “At first I think people thought there was only so much cake to go around and if there is more people for it to be divided between then you get a smaller piece. But actually there were so many people on Saturday who haven’t been here before who have said what a brilliant market we have.”

Graham Gould, from Salisbury City Centre Management, said: “From the feedback we are getting from the Christmas market and local businesses, all the signs are that this is going to be an absolutely fantastic market and it is going to achieve everything we hoped for.

“It appears to be bringing in new visitors to Salisbury – people who haven’t been here before or people who haven’t been here for a long time.

“One of the main aims was to help existing businesses and the Charter market, to bring them new customers, and all the evidence we have so far shows that it is working.”