Northern Ireland Boxing Day footfall jumps 22.9%
Shopping destinations around Northern Ireland have reported a busy Boxing Day sales period with official figures even showing an increase in footfall of more than 20%.
After a difficult few months for the retail trade, early analysis shows one of the biggest days in the shopping calendar drew the bargain hunters out in force.
Average footfall on local high streets showed a 22.9% increase compared to last year.
The findings were released by retail monitoring service Springboard.
They suggest that high streets and shopping centres are coping well with the pressure from online shopping.
And the strong performance also seems to dispel fears that a trend towards early discounting, triggered by Black Friday at the end of November, dampens Boxing Day shopper appetite.
In Ballymena, department store Wallace's had its first day of trading since Christmas yesterday. One assistant said: "It's fair to say we are having a busy day here."
And in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, a spokeswoman for The Linen Green Moygashel designer shopping village said it was busy on its first day of opening after Christmas.
"If there's a sale on, people will be looking for designer bargains," she added.
But Springboard said that 2017's strong performance followed a drop of nearly 19% on Boxing Day 2016.
And UK-wide, Boxing Day sales were down 4.5%.
Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said the UK footfall drop reflected the extent of discounting ahead of the Boxing Day period and the growth in online trade.
"In addition to this, Black Friday now rivals Boxing Day in terms of the volume of footfall generated and so its influence as a key trading day in the retail calendar has been diluted."
However, Belfast's Victoria Square shopping centre said its performance on Tuesday was level with Boxing Day 2016 - following a bumper week in the run-up to Christmas when footfall was up 3% on the year before.
Manager Michelle Greeves said: "Footfall on Boxing Day was pretty level with last year, which was great as we had had such a phenomenal week last week.
"We were wondering if things would come through for us on Boxing Day as we'd enjoyed such a good week.
"A lot of our customers were also shopping online on Christmas Day, which is the second year we've seen that."
She said clothing offers, along with handbags and shoes, were the most sought-after Boxing Day bargains.