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NI shoppers resist retail temptation during Twelfth week: report

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The Twelfth of July march in Belfast. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The Twelfth of July march in Belfast. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Getty Images

The Twelfth of July march in Belfast. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Shoppers here appeared to resist retail therapy during the heatwave and traditional Twelfth holiday last week, with Northern Ireland recording the steepest drop in shop footfall in the UK.

Between July 11 to Saturday July 17, footfall was down 7.4% at our shopping destinations compared to the week before, according to a report from retail research company, Springboard.

That was the steepest fall of any UK region, although across the 10 locations surveyed, just three had recorded a drop in footfall compared to the week before.

NI’s slump in footfall contrasted with a drop of 0.5% in the East Midlands and a decrease of 0,8% in the south east.  Across the UK as a whole, footfall was up 0.9%. 

Celebrations to mark the Twelfth of July took place across many locations in Northern Ireland on the bank holiday last Monday, while fine summer weather took hold from Wednesday.

The rate of improvement in Northern Ireland’s footfall was also the most anaemic in the UK when compared with last year.  

Footfall at shops here was up just 16.2%, compared to this time last year – again the weakest of 10 UK regions. 

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The strongest improvement was in the East Midlands, at 41.8%, while the UK average was an increase of 27.3%.   

Yet when compared with the pre-pandemic era of 2019, NI’s footfall is down by just 21.2%, according to Springboard. 

That makes it the UK’s second-best performing region, with only the south west showing a stronger rate of improvement, at 21.1%. 

All over the UK, people have been favouring the open air of high streets over covered locations like shopping centres and retail parks, Springboard said. 

High street footfall was up 3.3% across the UK, but footfall was down 0.8% in retail parks and 2.2% in shopping centres. 

Springboard also forecast that UK footfall will rise by 19.7% this week following ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday. 

The term was adopted by the UK government to mark changes which mean measures such as face coverings and social distancing are no longer mandatory in England.  

However, the measures remain in place elsewhere in the UK.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, added: “Despite the removal of Covid restrictions, the recently increased infection rate is likely to make some shoppers more cautious about venturing out into what could be busy shopping environments.

“Additionally, many workers have not yet returned to their offices and are unlikely to do so full time, which particularly impacts larger towns and cities where the volumes of footfall are greatest.”


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