By Lea Pachta

Exports of fairy lights are up, over two million tonnes of festive articles such as crackers and party hats have been sent abroad, and a staggering 306 million bottles of whisky have been sold overseas by UK firms exporting Christmas cheer.

With the festival celebrated in every continent around the world, Sir Andrew Cahn, Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), said today that more UK firms could benefit from the seasonal demand.

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“Christmas is the season of goodwill and the season of presents. So there is good business to be done and the UK is up there is the top league,“ he said.

“We have a hugely rich and diverse economy, brimming with innovation. We are the world’s sixth biggest manufacturer and we have the biggest industries in Europe for life sciences, creative industries, information technology and financial services.

“UK firms can benefit from the season of giving, and UK Trade & Investment wants to hear from more firms keen to find out how they can achieve their export potential.”

The most recent full-year figures from the UN’s Comtrade database show that the UK exported over £3.5 million of Christmas lights in 2008, a rise in value of £433,000 on the previous year.

Among the UK’s exports were 2.6 million tonnes of “articles for Christmas festivities”, a category which includes crackers, paper hats, jokes, prizes, napkins, tinsel, Christmas tree angels and wrapping paper.

With the UK the ninth largest agricultural exporter in the world, traditional Christmas nibbles were among the items sold abroad.

Four million kilograms of smoked salmon were sent overseas in 2008, as were 6.3 million kilograms of sausages, including chipolatas, and over 100,000 kilograms of Brussels sprouts — which sold well in France. This was matched by 15 million kilograms of chocolate and 2.2 million kilograms of cheese such as Stilton.

To wash this down, the UK exported 1.9 million bottles of sparkling wine, and a staggering 306 million bottles of whisky.

Against the winter weather, the UK exported over five million winter coats, capes and wind jackets for women and girls (and 3.5 million for men and boys), and about 43 million pairs of footwear, including waterproof boots.
And, the perennial Christmas present, the UK sold five million pairs of socks and tights (knitted and crocheted).

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