Inside Europe’s Christmas Light Cutbacks: Saving Face or Energy? | Stephanomics

Inside Europe's Christmas Light Cutbacks: Saving Face or Energy? | Stephanomics

Europe might just avoid what had been a widely predicted, Kremlin-induced energy crisis this winter, thanks to a surprisingly large stock of natural gas. But are the continent’s efforts to conserve giving a bah humbug to the holidays? Some of Europe’s best-loved Christmas markets are shutting their holiday lights earlier to save electricity or even banning them outright. Even worse, Frankfurt’s famous market is—perish the thought—forgoing heated toilets.

We delve into the energy challenges facing Europe as it works to replace natural gas cut off by Russia. Reporter Bastian Benrath visits with retailers in Frankfurt’s famed Christmas market, where cutbacks to the city’s large holiday light displays threaten to sap some of its magic and give shoppers less reason to turn out. Other cities like Zurich, Berlin and London also have trimmed holiday display hours or reduced their size, and Paris is turning off the lights at the Eiffel Tower an hour early.

What really annoys retailers about this Scrooge-like behavior is that keeping the lights on may expend less energy than powering and heating the markets themselves. As Benrath reports, “in many places, cutting the Christmas lights might actually be more about saving face than actually about saving energy.”

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Dublin, Lisbon and Stockholm are among cities that will limit how long Christmas lights shine in a potential damper to the holiday mood.

This holiday season, European retailers are struggling to put shoppers in a festive mood as Russian aggression claims an unlikely sacrifice: Christmas lights.

With the prospect of blackouts and rationing looming, officials in cities including Helsinki, Lisbon and London are pulling the plug on some decorative lighting in main streets and squares. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended relations with the continent’s most important energy supplier, and residents are being called upon to lower their heating and take shorter showers. Paring back traditional twinkling stars and icicle lights is part of this effort.

Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse, the prime shopping street in Switzerland — and among the most expensive in Europe — prides itself on “Lucy,” an annual light display that fills the night sky with “diamonds.” But this year those kaleidoscope eyes will only illuminate the Louis Vuitton and Gucci shops for five hours an evening, roughly half the usual duration.

That’s raised the question of how willing consumers will be to open to their wallets during what is normally retailers’ happiest time of year.

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#Europe #Energy #Podcast #Frankfurt #ChristmasMarket

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