RETAILERS and hospitality operators say they are worried about the cancellation of York's Christmas market but hope locals will lend their support.

St Nicholas Fair annually attracts thousands of visitors, filling hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes, with many shops relying on the trade to get them through the following quieter months.

But City of York Council has confirmed that the crowd-pulling event will not go ahead from November 12 to December 23 due to Covid-19 concerns.

It follows cancellations of other major festive markets, including Leeds.

Andrew Lowson, executor director of the York BID, said: "Regardless of markets being cancelled, this tourism would have been impacted this year, due to certain parts of the country being locked down and people not able to travel.

"The city now has to make the best of a difficult situation and do all it can to support local businesses. Encouraging local people to support the city should be the main objective of any marketing.

"The York BID will still erect the Christmas lights; its cleaners will work hard to make the city look its best; and Street Rangers will be there to reassure the public.

"York is a beautiful city at Christmas with or without markets and we’ll look to promote the great offerings York businesses have over the coming weeks."

Rebecca Hill, who runs Galtres Lodge, an indepedent hotel and restaurant in Low Petergate, said she felt nervous but was trying to remain positive.

"November and December are our busiest months, due to the Christmas markets. Every day is like a Saturday and fully booked. I have already had people phoning to postpone or cancel.

"For the restaurant, it could be better for us. In August when locals weren't travelling outside their home areas we had more York residents in our restaurant and local support was really good."

She said tourists often just wanted somewhere to rest, and to use the bathroom.

"In August, the locals came and had a nice meal, a drink and chatted and learnt about us. It was a different business for us. If that happens again, we might be happier with that.

"York is still an amazing place to come shopping. What do you get at the Christmas market? It is difficult to shop because it is overwhelming. Mulled wine is nice but I am sure plenty of restaurants will do that. Maybe we can win over some of the locals who will enjoy York without the Christmas market."

Phil Pinder, head of York retail Forum who runs Potions Cauldron on Shambles, said: "This is an unknown quantity. We have never not had a Christmas market. York still is an amazing place to visit without the Christmas fair. I would hope people would still come.

"When we have surveyed people in the past, their number one reason to come into York was to visit the shops not the Christmas market. I hope that remains the case.

"People are still trading about 25 per cent down in line with footfall. It has been a tough few months. August was good. Hopefully that will translate into Christmas as people come and do their Christmas shopping.

"The Christmas quarter is worth two January-to-March quarters at least. That supports businesses for some time, It's got to be a good Christmas to see us all through the next period."

Coppergate centre manager, Pippa Unwin said: "We made the decision some months ago not to have chalets in Coppergate this year, simply because it would compromise our ability to maintain social distancing as it gets into the busy festive season."

However, from mid-November there would still be 'a glittering display' of Christmas lights and lovely festive atmosphere, she said.

"Street food will also continue to be available from our regular local businesses: YO31 Pizza, Cattle Shed and Spring Espresso. We are also looking to see if there are any other ways we can enhance the atmosphere, within ongoing Covid restrictions.

“Our retailers always pull out all the stops at Christmas and this year will be no different. So, although Christmas is going to be slightly different, people will still find plenty of Christmas spirit and reasons to celebrate and enjoy this special time of the year in the Coppergate Centre.”