Traders hope for Orange pound boost as Twelfth arrives
The Twelfth has arrived - and as well as a day out for loyal order members and spectators, there are many businesses across Northern Ireland hoping for a boost from the Orange pound.
With everyone taking part expected to work up an appetite on their march to the field at 18 key parades, takeaway food is set to be a major seller.
In Belfast the city's main parade will make its way along the Lisburn Road to Barnett Demesne, and many chip shops on the route will be throwing open their doors.
Cafe Fish said it was opening today after up to five years of shutting on the Twelfth, and spokesman Jacob Bradley said it was hoping for a busy day.
And businesses in the small Co Fermanagh village of Lisbellaw have been working hard to prepare for hosting the county's Twelfth parade.
Susan Hamilton, from takeaway and Vivo shop Ashdale in Enniskillen, said extra staff had been drafted in to make sandwiches for sale in the family's Spar in Lisbellaw.
And hundreds of council workers across Northern Ireland will be on double-time as they deal with the big clean-up after the festivities.
Meanwhile, the majority of shops in Belfast city centre are due to open from 12pm to 5pm today.
Economist Andrew Webb said: "Obviously the Twelfth has a very one-sided traditional context, but that aside, there do appear to have been efforts made to maximise the opportunity that it could be for arts, culture and trade.
"From a city centre perspective, Orangefest brings a street entertainment programme - family fun, acrobatics, clowning, etc - to the city centre area.
"There is great potential within that concept to broaden it out in a way that is commercially advantageous to traders and all the community and visitors.
"Don't forget that most, if not all, city centre shops will lose about half-a-day's trade, so anything that can animate the city and draw in visitors must be done."
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, which represents independent traders, said: "Let's hope that the day is a good one for as many retailers as possible."
An Orange Order spokesman said: "The positive economic effect of the Twelfth of July and associated loyal order events cannot be underestimated.
"In 2013 a major socio-economic report concluded the social and economic impact of the loyal orders and bands community amounted to £55 million per year, not including tourism revenue.
"Such investment is of significant benefit to local businesses, manufacturers, retailers and the hospitality sector."