Independent shops helping rejuvenate Northern Ireland high streets
Independent shops are helping to rejuvenate high streets in Northern Ireland, a new study has found.
More than a quarter of respondents to a survey carried out to coincide with the launch of the Great British High Street Awards 2019 said they have plans to open another high street shop and employ more staff in the next year.
The survey also revealed that 91% of small high street businesses here are optimistic about the future of their high street - up from 60% this time last year.
Two-thirds of respondents also said they visit their local high street at least once a week, with people in Belfast visiting most regularly.
However, they also said they would like to see more clothes and book shops on their high street.
Marking the launch of the Government-run Great British High Street Awards 2019, in partnership with Visa, the research found that 34,511 independent high street shops opened for business across the UK last year, up 4.5% in 2017.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: "The Government Awards celebrate the dedicated shop keepers, the committed volunteers and forward-thinking councils who together are creating vibrant and dynamic high streets that are loved by their communities.
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"I would encourage communities across the nation to enter, so their high streets and the people working in them gain the recognition they fully deserve."
The initiative includes a competition to find the UK's best and most improved high streets within two categories and last year Bow Street in Lisburn and Portadown town centre were both successful.
Sarah Munn was also celebrated for her response to helping address a declining footfall on Lisburn's high street by creating a community space and organising regular meet-up events.