Demand for handmade goods rises amid cost-of-living crisis

Cardiff Christmas market proves a crowd-puller in its first week, seeing a growing demand for locally produced products 

Cardiff Christmas bar part of the Christmas market on a bus weekend
Festive spirits are high at the Cardiff Christmas Market

Contrary to adverse national sales forecasts for the festive season, early indications at the Cardiff Christmas market show that people are willing to spend on gift shopping if the items are one-of-a-kind and handmade.

The Shopping for Christmas Report 2023 released in October highlighted that the sale of gifts and decorations will be hit since everything including food and daily essentials, has gone up in price.

In Cardiff, however, this has been proven wrong with locally produced arts and crafts products, festive decorations and customised gift items seeing a growing demand among visitors at the Christmas market.

“The response has been great so far. We haven’t seen much of a dip in sales since Cardiff has become a hub for shopping and people come here from all over,” says Lu Gossian of Gossian Blurs, which sells abstract art pieces, notebooks and art-stone jewellery.

A glass artist working live on making decorations at a stall
A glass artist working live making decorations, photo by Becky George

Access to exclusive handcrafted pieces is one factor which draws in customers to the market. “The jigsaw puzzles have been flying off the shelves probably because it is a nice Christmas gift and an off-screen activity which people can enjoy together. The notebooks too had to be restocked as each one is handpainted and unique,” added Gossian.

The Cardiff Christmas Market is hosted by Craft Folk, a 1994-established crafts fair organising company in South Wales. “The market has been featured among the top Christmas markets in the UK for almost 10 years now. I think the public is perceptive of the fact that we are committed to supporting small Welsh independent shops selling authentic products, which cannot be bought from any high street stores,” says Jane Halls, operating manager at the firm.

The biggest challenge for sellers till now, has been the erratic Welsh weather. “While people are ready to explore and spend on customised gifts, the wet and blustery weather seems to be against us,” observed Sian James who owns Fun and Funky Stuff.

30 years of spreading Christmas cheer

The Cardiff Christmas Market will celebrate 30 years of festive shopping in 2024. With over 200 exhibitors each year, the market is a rolling programme where new vendors can choose a short-term taster stall or go for a long-term regular option. Organic skincare, fragrant Christmas decorations, bespoke jewellery and more can be bought all the while enjoying a nice cup of hot cider.