Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland shops take battering as footfall drops 2.4% in November marking six months of decline

By John Mulgrew

High streets and shopping centres across Northern Ireland are continuing to take a battering with footfall dropping by 2.4% in the last month.

Shops across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres each suffered a stark fall - marking six months of decline.

Overall, high streets and retail park footfall dropped by 2.6%, with shopping centre footfall down 1.7%, according to figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) with Springboard.

And Northern Ireland was the UK's worst performing region on Black Friday as the number of shoppers on high streets slumped by 7.2% compared to last year.

Aodhan Connolly, director of the NIRC, said: "Shopper footfall in Northern Ireland sagged once again last month, and for the sixth month in a row. This was the weakest performance reported by any of the nations or regions across the UK, with the decline in footfall continuing at a faster pace than witnessed over the past year as a whole.

"Retail destinations in Northern Ireland are having to contend with two major challenges. The first of these is the growing popularity of digital shopping which now sees a quarter of all non-food retail sales now being undertaken online.

"At the same time family finances have come under pressure from higher inflation and only moderate increases in wages. Retailers will be pulling out the stops in order to deliver a more creditable performance during the crucial Christmas trading period, with December itself traditionally accounting for an eighth of annual retail sales."

And Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director, Springboard, said that while there was a drop in footfall it represents a "partial recovery from October when footfall dropped by 6.5%".

"November was characterised by significant discounting with flash sales of up to 50% off, which culminated in the Black Friday period at the end of the month.

"While Black Friday was largely an online event, it appeared to drive activity into retail destinations in Northern Ireland as over the first three weeks of the month footfall rose by 0.1%, far better than the first three weeks of October when footfall declined by 6.1%. However, the online nature of Black Friday came home to roost in the last week, when footfall dropped by a significant 9.4% including a double-digit drop footfall over the weekend following Black Friday, clearly indicating that click and collect purchasing did not feature."

Belfast Telegraph

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