Shoppers return to Belfast city centre with both footfall and sales rising
Outlook rosy for 2014, say surveys
Sales and footfall are up for more than 200 Belfast city centre retailers, according to the results of two surveys.
Belfast City Centre Management said the findings show signs of growth in business in the city.
The manager of one of the city's top shopping complexes says that things are looking bright for 2014.
The first survey centred on business performance in December 2013 which showed that average sales at the 228 outlets polled were up 5.71% on the same period in the previous year.
The organisation wouldn't revealed the value of the sales.
Average footfall for December 2013 was recorded as being up 2.16%.
Belfast City Centre Management then undertook a second survey to establish if this positive trend continued into January 2014, which found that average sales for the month were up 5.9% and footfall was up 5.44%.
Belfast city centre shops have been hit hard in recent years by poor weather and flag protests during the key Christmas shopping period as well as the overall financial downturn, which saw a number of popular chains fall into administration.
The manager of Victoria Square and chair of the Belfast City Centre Management retail steering group, Michelle Jackson, said the survey has shown an extremely positive start to the year for businesses in Belfast.
"The end of 2012 and the start of 2013 were not without their challenges," she said.
"However it is great to see these results and the apparent pick-up in both footfall and sales for many retailers in Belfast. These figures are definitely positive and I am pleased to see that the positive trend is continuing into 2014.
"This bodes really well for 2014 and will hopefully see Belfast city centre re-established as a key shopping destination.
"There is a real positive feel in the air and a buzz about the city at the moment and we hope that continues in the year ahead."
Manager of Top Shop, David Glenn, reported that the branch in Victoria Square had an extremely successful Christmas.
"It is encouraging that both sales and footfall had increased in December 2013.
"I am hopeful that this trend for Belfast will continue into 2014," he said.
Jennifer Allen of Crabtree & Evelyn added that its performance in December 2013 had been a positive improvement on December 2012.
"The reports indicate that in the main, businesses across the city centre performed well," she said.
"This positive message is a great start to 2014 and I hope this trend will continue."
Belfast city centre's festive year-on-year boom
Sales up 5.71%
Footfall up 2.16%
Sales for January 2014 up 5.9%
Footfall for January 2014 up 5.44%.
Source: Belfast City Centre Management based on a survey of 228 retailers.