It's a real dilemma: On the one hand, people are encouraged to avoid contact if possible and stay home when possible. On the other, retail suffers enormously from the fact that downtowns remain relatively empty. This is also being felt by the retailers on the Zeil, which is otherwise one of the highest-turnover shopping streets in Germany. Sales have dropped by around 60 percent here. Even though there is a lot of activity on the Zeil on some days, many customers avoid the shops. The big hope for retailers now is Christmas sales.
To get people here in the Christmas spirit and buying mood, the Zeil has been lit up for Christmas since Thursday evening for the first time since 2017. Under the motto "The Zeil shines", Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann switched on the Christmas lights on Frankfurt's largest shopping street. "Christmas shopping needs Christmas spirit," said the city leader. "But this year, the scent of almonds and mulled wine that usually accompanies us through this time is missing. With the new Christmas lights, we are literally turning the Zeil into a bright spot - and giving Frankfurt's retail sector a helping hand in a difficult situation."
For a long time, it looked like we would have to do without these Christmas lights as well. Because due to the lack of revenue from the traders and their associations, there was no money for the Christmas lights. The City Management under the direction of Eduard Singer and the Economic Development Agency stepped in and took over the financing, thus supporting the association NEUE Zeil as organizer and promoter. The Parks Department, the Office for Road Construction and Development, Stadtbeleuchtung Rhein-Main and the Frankfurt Chamber of Commerce and Industry, represented by President Ulrich Caspar, were also on board.
Feldmann said: "The virus shows us every day how important cohesion is. The fact that everyone is now pulling together and working together for our retail sector is encouraging."
Economic Affairs Director Markus Frank welcomed the joint initiative for the Christmas lighting of the Zeil:" Festively decorated shopping streets are literally a visible invitation and stand for a harmonious atmosphere - an important signal for our retail trade, for our citizens and the guests of our city in these difficult times. Safe shopping with ambiance is our message for the holiday shopping season, please support local retailers."
"The past few months have been a tough time for downtown retail due to customers staying away. Every measure that makes the Zeil more attractive helps businesses to survive this difficult phase. Therefore, I would like to expressly thank you for the good cooperation to make the Christmas lighting possible," said Ulrich Caspar, President of the Frankfurt Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
So now an atmospheric shopping trip at Christmas time is possible even without a Christmas market. And if we all stick to the AHA rules, this is also a sure way to support local retailers in these difficult times.