Glasgow businesses have long prospered in the festive season with visitors attracted to the city by its impressive decorations and winter attractions.
But the holidays were also used to foster community spirit in more troubled times when Glasgow was struggling in the post-war era with a legacy of slum housing and declining industry.
The importance of Christmas to the city was emphasised in a festive message by Lord Provost Victor Warren, reported in The Scotsman of December 26, 1950.
“Christmas is the season for reuniting of families,” he said. “There is no city in Great Britain that is a bigger and better-knit family than this city of Glasgow. We should realise that times are difficult, the international situation complicated, but we overcame grave difficulties in the past, and we can, with courage, grit and determination meet anything the future may hold.”
On December 27, 1930, The Scotsman reported a new postal record had been set by the city. During the week leading up to Christmas Day, a total of 20 million letters, packets and parcels were handled by Post Office staff across Glasgow. There were 80,000 packages delivered on the morning of December 25 alone.
Seven years later, the Glasgow Restaurateurs’ Association was appealing for the right to serve alcohol between the hours of noon and 2pm on Christmas Day. The application to the city’s licensing authority noted that “a considerable amount of country people would be spending the day in Glasgow and having their lunch in the city.” The request was granted, but pubs were still be expected to close from noon until reopening at 4pm, with last orders at 10pm.
Fast forward to 2014 and market research suggested Glasgow was the number one Christmas shopping destination in the UK outside of London’s West End.
The city topped a poll as the Scotland’s most popular Christmas shopping destination, beating all other Scottish cities with nearly a third (29 per cent) of Scots planning a day trip to Glasgow.
City shopping also beat out-of-town malls, with over half of Scots (58 per cent) planning a day out in a UK city centre, compared with 20 per cent planning to visit an out-of-town shopping centre.