Protests are 'costing the city £10m'
The cost of the flag protests on retail in Belfast is now tipping £10m, according to an economist.
John Simpson added that at a time when the January sales normally fill many column inches, some retailers in the city are thought to be delaying their discounts until the situation calms.
He maintained those who would normally have driven to Belfast for sales shopping have provided a boost to out of town complexes like Junction One, Sprucefield and The Outlet.
"I think Belfast people will always shop in Belfast," he said.
"However the mobile people, those from outside Belfast, the people who would have travelled to the city to shop, have gone elsewhere. People have stayed out of Belfast during what is normally the busiest shopping period.
"I do think the smaller town centres and the out of town places will have received a slight benefit because of the trouble in Belfast.
"Normally at this time all you would hear about are the sales, but who is talking about the sales now? There is no point selling cut price goods when people are not there to buy them."
"Up until Christmas I estimated that the loss to Belfast shops could be as much as £7m, and now that figure could easily be nudging £10m."