Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland high street footfall pulling ahead of UK as a whole

By John Mulgrew

High streets and shopping centres across Northern Ireland have seen a surge of 2.3% in consumers - outpacing the other UK regions. Footfall grew in May, based on the same period a year earlier. It's now increased in six of the last 12 months, according to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) with Springboard.

But taking a "longer term look at footfall in Northern Ireland the enduring characteristic is one of volatility", according to NIRC director Aodhan Connolly.

Across the UK, high streets took a battering, dropping by 2%. And across all shopping areas, there was a fall of 1%.

"One swallow does not make a summer and we must remember that footfall does not directly equate to sales," he said.

"It is encouraging to see this rise, especially on the high streets, but it is a small rather than meteoric rise and both the three month and 12 month averages are negative. The one thing that we do know is that retailers' responses to the squeezed budgets of the Northern Ireland consumer by offering better value has paid dividends for both retailers and consumers." According to the latest figures, footfall grew on the high street, retail parks and at shopping centres.

"We are now reaching six months without having an Executive. While politically we have been stagnant, retail continues to surge ahead as a pillar of the Northern Ireland economy," Mr Connolly said.

"Quite simply, retail doesn't stand still and neither should our political institutions. Our industry sees the tangible benefits that devolved government here has delivered and we would urge all the political parties to make the most of the small window of opportunity that we have before the talks deadline on June 29."

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director, Springboard, said: "While customer volumes continued to increase in Northern Ireland during May, the restraint being shown by shoppers across the UK is starting to show here too, with a slowing of growth in Northern Ireland's high street footfall post-5pm to 3.9% in May from 8.4% in May 2016. This suggests fewer shoppers opted to stay longer and eat out after their shopping trips."

Belfast Telegraph