Belfast Telegraph

'Horrendous' rent and rate hikes hit retailers on shopping strip

By Clare Weir

Another south Belfast retailer has expressed concern about the viability of independent businesses on the Lisburn Road.

Gavin Dunlop of Moda shoe shop was speaking almost a fortnight after it was revealed that a high-end interiors showroom on the same upmarket shopping strip is to close after 10 years on the Lisburn Road.

Manager at Beaufort Interiors Trevor Wilson told the Belfast Telegraph earlier this month that rates and rent on the popular retail strip are "horrendous" and that the business will be consolidated between the company's main showroom in Moira and a factory in Lisburn.

Mr Wilson said that "horrendous" rates and rent have meant that the Lisburn Road location was no longer viable for the firm to retain.

Now Mr Dunlop has added his voice to the growing chorus of retailers expressing concern about the street.

"I have been here for 10 years and things have never been tougher," he said.

"Rents keep going up, rates keep going up but there is a recession on and people have less money to spend.

"I have shops in Ballymena and Newtownards doing really well because there seems to be a bit more flexibility in other areas outside Belfast.

"One way some Lisburn Road traders are coping is by raising the cost of their products but that will drive even more customers away and I am constantly looking for the best value so that I do not have to do that.

"The Lisburn Road is just wonderful but I fear it is going to lose its identity and its independence if more traders are forced out by high rates and rent and replaced by chains you see in any other street in Belfast."