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Shuttered shops: Do NI high streets have future?

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The shutters have come down on many shops in Belfast city centre

The shutters have come down on many shops in Belfast city centre

The shutters have come down on many shops in Belfast city centre

The shutters have come down on many shops in Belfast city centre

The shutters have come down on many shops in Belfast city centre

The shutters have come down on many shops in Belfast city centre

The shutters have come down on many shops in Belfast city centre

Footfall figures across the UK's high streets slowly crept up last week but the threat to the retail sector in the wake of lockdown is still visible by the shuttered fronts of many retail outlets still to reopen here.

Last week, footfall in NI grew at a quicker rate than elsewhere in the UK, with growth of 9.8% compared to the previous week. It signalled promising shoots of recovery for the sector. But there remains concern with some retailers yet to reopen following lockdown, particularly in smaller towns.

In Belfast, some high street brands have bowed out under pressure with Tesco announcing at the weekend that it is to close its Metro store on Royal Avenue within the next year.