Belfast Telegraph

New brands, but city slips as shopping destination

By John Mulgrew

Belfast has attracted dozens of new retail brands in the last few years but is falling down a list of the top shopping spots in the UK, a new report has shown.

And businesses such as stationery company Smiggle and jewellery firm Lovisa are now "seeking opportunities" for their first stores in Belfast, according to commercial property firm Lambert Smith Hampton.

The firm yesterday launched a new report called Belfast: An Evolution of the Retail Landscape, which outlines the city's progress and future across the high streets and out-of-town developments.

And while it points to major expansion across the city since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast still sits 15th out of 20 top UK shopping destinations. And it's due to fall further to 16th place in 2017, it's understood.

Belfast has added a raft of new brands to the city centre in the last year. That includes fashion companies such as Stradivarius, Boux Avenue and Skechers.

Food and beverage businesses which joined the high street in 2016 included Patisserie Valerie, Five Guys and Greggs.

Criona Collins, director of retail at Lambert Smith Hampton, said while the report "shows how far Belfast has come in terms of its retail offering since 1998" that "there is a real and pressing need for a strategy if we are to maintain this progress in Belfast".

Dr Claire Cole, research analyst at Lambert Smith Hampton, who produced the report, said: "It is clear that retail in Belfast has wholly improved."

Belfast Telegraph