Belfast Telegraph

Rushmere has busiest Christmas in 40 years

Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Rushmere Shopping Centre has reported its busiest festive trading since it opened in Craigavon in 1976.

The centre, which is home to retailers including Debenhams and Sainsbury's, said there was a 15% increase in shopper numbers in the seven days to December 29.

Its announcement comes at the start of a week of trading updates from the UK's biggest retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Debenhams and Marks & Spencer.

And last week, Belfast Telegraph revealed that footfall in Belfast's retail heart was up 40% in the week starting December 24, as shoppers capitalised on the opening of a new Primark and improved access to shops.

Access to shops in Royal Avenue had been limited following a devastating fire at Primark's flagship premises in Bank Buildings at the end of August.

Across the UK, retailers are nervous that Christmas figures will be down on last year due to online shopping and growing consumer nerves over Brexit.

However, the performance of Belfast city centre and Rushmere Shopping Centre appears to suggest many Northern Ireland shops have enjoyed a busy festive season.

Martin Walsh, Rushmere manager, said: "The final weekend before Christmas is always a bumper trading weekend and this year we enjoyed our busiest yet since we officially opened in 1976."

Two of its main tenants, Sainsbury's and Debenhams, will give trading updates tomorrow and Thursday respectively.

Meanwhile, research by accountancy firm RSM suggests consumers will tighten spending on areas including takeaways and nights out in 2019.

Belfast Telegraph