Belfast Telegraph

'Positive' trading day as more shops open in city centre for Twelfth

By Mark Bain

Businesses in Belfast city centre enjoyed a reasonably successful Twelfth.

With thousands coming in to watch the parade, more shops took the opportunity to open than in previous years.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said it was too early to give exact figures for footfall, but the general feeling was that the number of people around the main shopping areas was higher than in previous years.

"It wouldn't have been as busy around the centre as a normal trading day," he admitted.

"But it certainly seems to have been a positive experience for many traders.

"The message is getting across that the majority of the shops are open.

"And year on year more people are getting used to it.

"There was definitely a larger number of shops open than in previous years, and that's a real positive.

"It's something we want the city centre traders to build on in the future."

Mr Roberts said that the recent good weather had helped boost the number of people out and about around the city centre.

He added: "Obviously some independent shops will still be closed for the holidays, but most food and convenience stores will have been open as normal.

"We're pleased to see more and more shops taking the opportunity to open on the Twelfth.

"The number of tourists has been increasing and for next year I'd encourage even more city centre stores to open.

"On the whole, it was a very positive day."

Store manager Rachel Clarke of Carrolls Irish Gifts said: "From what I can tell so far we were busy enough.

"It was a good-natured day with no troubles, and though we were on reduced hours, we were delighted with the number of people around the city centre and in the shops.

"In previous years we've had to pull down shutters and switch off the music, but nothing like that this year. It all went well."

Before 2009 city centre shops closed for the Twelfth, but after a successful first year, then-Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said she hoped the years of the centre being deserted after the parade were over.

"I would encourage shops to open, as it would be of benefit to them," she said at the time.

Belfast Telegraph

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