SHOPPERS are witnessing an early Christmas 'miracle' - Oxford’s Covered Market is now ‘full’.

The proud claim comes from city council bosses - landlords of the historic market - who have been working hard to ensure as many units as possible are occupied, by dividing up large empty units into smaller business premises.

While a couple of empty units are still being renovated, the market is as full as it possibly can be in the run-up to December 25.

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One way of ensuring that valuable retail space does not go to waste in the festive period is to operate a number of pop-up shops.

Oxford Mail:

This was trialled last year by Graham MacDonald, who runs iScream gelateria and luxury chocolate shop.

Wicked Chocolate opened as a pop-up store until Easter in the former Macsamillion unit, selling artisan chocolate and Christmas gifts.

Mr MacDonald said: “There really is a feelgood factor in the market right now and that’s partly due to the pop-up shops.

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“Wicked Chocolate worked really well for us last year - our income shot up and of course it raises our profile.

Oxford Mail:

“I’m delighted so many units are now full.”

The Garden of Oxford has also opened a pop-up until Christmas in the former Hedges Butchers’ unit, selling Christmas trees, wreathes, garlands, and decorations.

Rewind, a vintage clothing company that already has a unit in Reading’s market, will open on a trial basis until at least Christmas in the former Dragon’s Den unit and Changos, selling South American empanadas, will open for six months in the former Baker Boys unit.

Oxford Mail:

As a result, in the run-up to Christmas, all 61 of the available units in the 18th century market will be occupied.

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The market’s Christmas lights and Christmas tree will go up from Sunday and the lights will be switched on as part of the Christmas Light Festival on 15 November.

Over the last year, a series of new traders have opened in the Covered Market, including Independent Oxford, which opened the Indie Oxford Market Place in September – a space filled with collections from independent and local businesses.

Oxford Mail:

The aim is to nurture and support businesses, so they can grow to take a stall in Gloucester Green, or even the Covered Market in the future.

Pershore Seafoods, a fishmonger, opened in April, while Blue Blood Sports, a sportswear and sports equipment store founded by three former employees of Elmer Cotton, opened in January.

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Teardrop, a micropub from West Oxfordshire-based and family-run Church Hanbrewery selling bottled and draught beer, opened in December and Oxford Soap Company, a local independent company offering hand-made cosmetics, opened in November

Two units are not currently being let because they are being revamped.

Oxford Mail:

These include the former Lindsey’s butchers’ unit.

The council is working with Oxford Preservation Trust to restore and preserve original and historic features.