Belfast Telegraph

Tiny footfall rise blamed on Stormont stalemate

By Staff Reporter

Shopping centres in Northern Ireland had a busy April, with footfall increasing by 5.4%, according to research.

But the Springboard survey of retail activity said high street footfall had fallen by nearly 2% during the month - giving an overall footfall increase of just 0.1% in the province.

That was considerably lower than the UK average increase of 1.6% during April, which had been driven by the timing of Easter.

And the shop vacancy rate in Northern Ireland weakened slightly from 14% to 14.4% during the month.

Aodhan Connolly, director of Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said the uncertain political climate was translating into uncertainty for consumers.

"These results are something of a mixed bag for NI's retailers. The unwelcome, but modest, rise in the Northern Ireland shop vacancy rate is still significant when you take into account the tiny growth in footfall.

"While any growth in shopper footfall is welcome, this has been largely driven by our shopping centres, which had the strongest growth across the UK.

"With the positive distortion because of a late Easter, these figures should really have been better.

"The current domestic political uncertainty is leading to economic uncertainty not just for our industry but for Northern Ireland consumers. To be frank, it is high time for Northern Ireland's politicians to get back round the table, thrash out a governing arrangement and crack on with delivering reformed rates, providing leadership on Brexit, and making Northern Ireland a more competitive place to do business.

"The current stalemate is not delivering for anyone."

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