Belfast Telegraph

Bad weather over Easter holiday leads to mixed picture for retailers

By Margaret Canning

Bad weather over the Easter weekend took its toll on footfall in Northern Ireland's high streets, it has been claimed.

Information company Springboard said there was a fall of nearly 17% in footfall on Easter Monday, when rain and low temperatures were at their worst.

Footfall on Easter Saturday was down nearly 7%.

Despite all large shops and shopping centres closing on Easter Sunday, footfall was up 18%, as the weather had actually been better than Easter Sunday last year.

Diane Wehrle of Springboard said that its monitors record people venturing into town centres for walks and meals, as well as shopping.

The Buttercrane Shopping Centre in Newry said that while bad weather had been hitting fashion sales in the run-up to Easter, the rain and sleet over the bank hweekend had nonetheless attracted shoppers to its enclosed retail area.

Manager Peter Murray said: "With Easter falling early in the season and the accompanying poor weather, fashion sales were impacted in the pre-Easter period.

"However, with people off work, schools closed and the continuing poor weather, Buttercrane has been extremely busy this week.

"We have a good range of Easter activities which attracted people to the centre along with an extensively decorated and themed mall setting - Easter Monday was our busiest in a number of years."

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, added: "There is no doubt the dreadful weather over Easter had some impact on the local retail sector.

"Easter is always an important trading time for our members.

"It does seem that many of the indoor shopping centres performed well, and our town centres and high streets less well, in terms of footfall.

"Despite this, our local retail is resilient and there will be lots more opportunities as summer approaches."

Ms Wehrle said Easter's importance in the retail calendar had been gradually receding in recent years.

"It's still a key trading time and typically a slipover time which marks the end of winter and the start of spring.

"But in recent times we have had more choice around how we shop - whether online or in store - and how we spend money in the wider sense. That means retail at Easter has diminished."

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.