Belfast Telegraph

Footfall on Northern Ireland high street falls by 1.5%

By Rachel Martin

Footfall on Northern Ireland's high streets dropped even further as spring failed to bounce life back into the retail sector.

The figures collected by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium showed footfall was down by 1.5% year-on-year for the five weeks between February 28 and April 2.

However, the UK average drop in footfall was even more dramatic, falling by 2.7% year-on-year.

The local results were also less pronounced than the fall for the previous five-week period when the consortium figures showed year-on-year footfall was down by just over 5% compared to 1.1% across the UK as a whole.

Aodhan Connolly, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium director, said: "March's 1.5% decline in footfall is a marked improvement on the -5.1% experienced in February. There is also some solace to be taken from the fact that we have beaten the national average with some regions and Wales having a decline of over 3%.

"What is clear is that the retail industry requires more certainty from the next Executive. There must be clear, bold and effective decisions made to support an industry which employs over 70,000 directly and more through the supply chain.

"A concerted effort needs to be made by all to make Northern Ireland a more competitive place to do business.

"We need the devolved Executive to recognise the cumulative burden faced by retailers in areas as diverse as business rates, the National Living Wage and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

"Policy-makers must support retailers to allow us to continue to invest and play our part in a strong recovery here in Northern Ireland."

The news will not make happy reading for retailers as industry experts associate an early Easter with kickstarting demand for spring fashion and household items.

Belfast Telegraph