Retail footfall declines in Northern Ireland at fastest rate in five years
Footfall in Northern Ireland is on the decline as new figures show a drop of 3.1% in December compared to 2.4% in November 2017, according to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC).
This decrease means that footfall in shops across Northern Ireland has been spiralling downwards for seven months, nearing the UK average drop of 3.5%.
NIRC director Aodhan Connolly said high streets and retail parks experienced a 3.1% decline while shopping centres suffered a 3.2% drop. He cited a change in consumer shopping habits, Brexit and disposable income squeezes as the main causes.
"For the UK as a whole the decline in shopper footfall is at its fastest pace in almost five years and in part reflects the profound structural challenges facing the retail industry as shopping habits continue to evolve," he said.
"While Northern Ireland did not fare as poorly as other parts of the UK, this further drop in footfall here means we have now witnessed seven months of consecutive decline which has been felt across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres.
"These figures are indicative of how challenging and uncertain 2017 has been for both the retail industry and consumers.
"Political instability, the enormity of Brexit unfolding, disposable incomes being squeezed, and ongoing profound changes in the way people shop have all added to the uncertainty."
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Mr Connolly said that a restoration of a devolved government would provide a "confidence boost" for retailers.
Meanwhile, Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director of data company Springboard, said the figures reflect the volatility in footfall.
"Retailers need to focus on maximising conversion via the core deliverable of best product and customer service with an improved in-store experience, whilst holding their nerve and resisting discounting too early," the director said.