Belfast Telegraph

Retailers demand pavement gritting as footfall figures slide

A SUPPORT group for small businesses in Northern Ireland said that retailers are experiencing a decrease in footfall because of the icy weather.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association has urged the Department of Regional Development and councils to sort who will be gritting avements after members have expressed concern that pavements outside their stores are making it very hard for customers to use.

NIIRTA chief executive Glyn Roberts said that retailers pay a considerable amount of rates and expect action to be taken to make footpaths accessible for customers.

"As many people will not want to travel to big out of town stores because of the weather, they will rely even more on local neighbourhood shops, particularly older people," he said.

"On the wider problem of 700 school closures this is having a serious impact on the economy as a whole.

"Our members' staff have been struggling to find last-minute childcare, which has resulted in many being late or taking unplanned leave"

"We need a greater jointed up approach by regional and local government to limit the economic impact of this severe weather and I hope that lessons will be learned for the rest of the winter."