The National Trust bucks economic trends to have bumper December
- Published on Thursday, 02 February 2012 10:00
- Posted by Scott Buckler
The National Trust has reported a substantial increase in its visitor numbers, and retail and catering sales in December 2011 compared to the previous December, despite a backdrop of challenging economic times and lack of consumer confidence
There were more than half-a-million (521,000) visitors to Trust properties in December 2011, an increase of 74 per cent on the previous year.
Factors affecting the large jump in visitor numbers include the mild weather (December 2010 saw heavy snowfall hitting the number of getting out and about) and an increasing number of houses running Christmas themed activity, such as lighting schemes and decorating stately homes for Christmas.
Over forty Trust pay-for-entry properties were open during the weekends in December. Attingham in Shropshire saw its busiest ever weekend with its Frost Fair which ran on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month.
The Trust is on target to have its best ever year for visitor numbers to its pay-for-entry properties, exceeding 18 million visitors for the first time in its history.
The retail business, which includes high street shops, shops at properties and online sales, saw an increase in sales of 24 per cent and the cafes and restaurants had a 71 per cent increase in sales in December 2011 compared to the same month in 2010.
In the year to date retail sales have increased by 8 per cent and catering has so far seen a 14 per cent increase in sales.
Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: "In these economically tough times the National Trust seems to have swum against the tide with these fantastic results.
"As the nation tightens its collective belt people have been looking for great value and places where they can get a real feel for Christmas.”
Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust, added: "This shows that arts and heritage charities not dependent on government grants appear to be experiencing a surge in trading income. The public is turning away from more expensive leisure venues, overnight stays and foreign trips. It is a rare good news story in the gloom."