Thursday, December 07, 2006

Letter to the Editor

I sent this letter to the local newspaper the day before yesterday, and was pleased to hear from a friend in the USA (such a small world) that it had been published on the Western Mail and Echo's website. I'm not sure if it actually appeared in print, as none of my usual media gleaning church members have reported back, and presented a newspaper cutting - which they generally do, keen as they are to see mentions of their beloved Church and Vicar in the papers. Anyway, here it is.

"I was amazed to glimpse an Echo billboard on Queen Street today declaring that Christmas shoppers were shunning Cardiff city centre. Glimpse is the word, as the street was so crowded people kept walking into my line of sight. It's been crowded most days since the Christmas
light switch-on.

I was comforted to find in my inbox when I got home a run-down of last week's Retail Index figures, (circulated by the Retail Partnership secretariat) confirming my impression that the number of shoppers isn't down, but slightly up on the same week last year, despite poorer weather. I'd like to know who is benefiting from all this doomsaying about 'MagiCardiff' (as the current TV advertising campaign is promoting the Capital City shopping experience). It's certainly not retailers or undecided potential visitors.

OK admit it, there been a mistake - it's minus seven and dry in Cardiff Ontario. Not much fun for shopping there. It's been averaging fourteen degrees in the Capital City of Wales, and the lousy rain can't stop people coming in. Maybe they are spending more via the internet than in
the high street, but they still need to come to town to have their spirits lifted, and a little retail therapy on a warm personal basis.

It's time to get out from behind the computer fellers, and see what it's like out there on the streets. Not a tenth as glum as you'd like to paint it, I'll wager."

Doom and gloom is supposed to be OK for Advent, I suppose, but not when it flies in the face of the truth. The city centre has indeed been getting busier by the day over the past two weeks. Traffic queues, people on foot with bags of shopping, visitors to the 'Winter Wonderland' ice rink, Big Wheel, and Santa's Grotto attractions outside the City Hall and the Museum. The ensemble of temporary features works well and is very photogenic at night, thanks to decent looking festive lighting.

The same is true for the lighting in Queen Street and St Mary Street, where there's been a streat programme of exchanging the seedy old decorative lights for new ones over the past two years. It's all looking better, and doesn't look as if the various components had been acquired from a varied series of dodgy second hand festive lighting warehouses. The churchyard is benefitting from white LED decorative lights strung in the trees, put up and paid for by the Council. All monochrome decorations of this kind are low energy consumption units these days, so the city looks good for less.

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