Belfast stores say it’s their busiest ever Christmas on record
Belfast shops have claimed they are experiencing one of their busiest Christmas seasons on record.
A combination of a retail marketing campaign and the introduction of free on-street parking is being hailed as the reason behind the success of our city centre shops bumper December trade.
A number of retailers have reported strong sales in recent weeks, including independent retailer SS Moore Sports, Lunns Jewellers, and Victoria Square and CastleCourt shopping centres.
Figures show that footfall in Belfast was up 7% from last year, with the Victoria Square shopping centre having its highest Sunday footfall since opening in March 2008 last week, December 11.
Footfall in the CastleCourt shopping centre is also up by 5% on last year and footfall on Donegall Place is up 20%.
California-style clothes shop Hollister, in Victoria Square, is trading fourth in their worldwide chain, and House of Fraser is trading fifth out of their 61 stores, up two places from last year.
Gerry Lennon, chief executive of the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau — which represents around 500 businesses in Belfast — said there are “strong indications that Christmas is gaining positive momentum in Belfast”.
“The strategic and operational activities shown here are real evidence that Belfast is working together with the primary aim of driving a bumper Christmas trade to the city,” he said.
“The free parking initiative negotiated by the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce is an excellent example of joint public private partnership.
“We’re receiving positive feedback already from our member businesses and we hope to see this continue right through to the New Year.”
It was announced at the start of the month that on-street parking in Belfast city centre — along with Lisburn and Newry — would be free after 4.30pm on weekdays and all-day Saturday and Sunday in the run-up to Christmas.
Combined with a £250,000 advertising campaign to promote Belfast as a key shopping destination, the aim was to get people into the city to part with their hard-earned cash.
Lord Mayor Niall O Donnghaile said it was “imperative” to encourage people to come to Belfast for their shopping.
“A vibrant city centre supports jobs, benefits us all who live and work here and provides more reasons for visitors to choose Belfast as their shopping and entertainment destination of choice,” he added.