Matthew Neville

Yorkshire independent retail venue records biggest weekend since 2017 £19m transformation

Last weekend saw The Piece Hall in Halifax record its biggest weekend since reopening in 2017 following its £19m landmark conservation and transformation.

The footfall peak coincided with the first weekend of Winter Makers Markets at the retail, heritage, hospitality, leisure and cultural venue, as visitors showed their support for local independent retail and made their return to socialising in the traditionally busy period leading to Christmas.

Figures from The Piece Hall’s automated footfall monitoring have shown that the first weekend of markets helped to bring 58,580 people into the Grade I-listed venue, with local independent craft stalls, artisan makers and pop-up food and drink stalls offering independent produce and gifts to visitors.

The weekend visitor boost was also a great success for some of The Piece Hall’s 40 resident independent traders, and The Piece Hall’s own restaurant, the Trading Rooms, saw its busiest week since reopening in 2017.

The latest figures suggest not only the venue’s continued recovery following the challenges of pandemic restrictions, but also considerable growth on pre-pandemic visitor levels; the venue’s last Christmas market in 2019 brought in 37,918 people.

Nicky Chance-Thompson DL, chief executive of The Piece Hall Trust, said: “The fact that we’ve had such an incredible weekend is testament to the hard work of our team since we reopened, as well as the resilience and determination of our wonderful independent retailers who have worked hard to help bring people back through our historic gates.

“The demand we have seen – which not only compares to but exceeds that of pre-pandemic levels – is another step forward in The Piece Hall’s growth trajectory since its transformation, and we can’t wait to share more exciting plans for the future.

Shelly Foster owns the Handmade Gift Shop: “What an amazing weekend here at The Piece Hall with the market, the shoppers, the whole environment, everyone loved it. I was four times as busy as usual on Saturday, we literally didn’t stop, it was like Christmas came early.”

John Fellows owns Mystical and Magical, a retailer selling an eclectic mix of ethical, fairly-traded cultural, artisan, and bohemian items.

John said: “What a wonderful weekend! Seeing so many people out and about enjoying this amazing building - wandering around the market, visiting the shops, grabbing a bite to eat, riding the carousel - it’s genuinely uplifting to see some normality and confidence returning at last. Unlike last year, it feels Christmassy! And we’ll be here to do it all again this weekend.”

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