Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Blow for retailers as footfall plunges over festive period

Shopping numbers were down in Northern Ireland over the Christmas period
Shopping numbers were down in Northern Ireland over the Christmas period

The significant drop in retail footfall over the festive period in Northern Ireland is a "major concern", according to industry experts.

The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium and Springboard's figures for December 2013, published today, reveal shopper numbers were 8.7% lower than in December 2012, down on the 6.3% decline in November 2013.

This was much lower than the overall UK figure, where shopper numbers were down by 2.4%.

Shoppers are thought to have stayed away from the high street due to a number of factors, including severe weather, online shopping, security alerts, explosions in Belfast and elsewhere – and to hold out for the big sales in January.

Northern Ireland was also the worst performing UK region in terms of shop vacancies, at 18.5% – nearly double the UK average.

Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said: "It's deeply concerning to see Northern Ireland suffered by far the steepest drop in footfall in December, especially after some tentative signs that growth was starting to go the other direction in November.

"Although disposable incomes are feeling the squeeze across the UK, budgets in Northern Ireland are under the greatest pressure, and there are weighty tasks in the year ahead to build and maintain confidence among customers and retailers."

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said Northern Ireland had "a more challenging time" in December than in the UK as a whole.

Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) chief executive Glyn Roberts said he was "disappointed that once again Northern Ireland has the worst decline in retail footfall in the UK".

Meanwhile, Paul McMahon, president of the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce said: "It is clear from data collected across the UK that footfall reflects a change in shopping patterns with many people moving to different shopping channels to make their purchases, and it is clear that this multichannel approach is set to continue."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Comment

More

Company Profiles

More

Help & Advice

More

People on the move

More