Belfast Telegraph

Two shops pull out of Belfast Victoria Square

Cara Delevingne (left) modelling Pepe jeans
Cara Delevingne (left) modelling Pepe jeans
Michelle Greeves

By John Mulgrew

Two casual fashion retailers have closed down at the Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast city centre, it can be revealed.

Jeans brands Levi's and Pepe have both shut up shop in the last few weeks.

It's understood Levi's shut its Victoria Square store last Wednesday.

At the end of last year Victoria Square was named Northern Ireland's top shopping centre for the seventh year in a row. And while it has had new openings, including Sta Travel, two of its long-running retailers have now pulled out.

A spokeswoman for Levi's said: "We can confirm that Levi's closed its store in Belfast on January 31.

"The decision to close the store was made as part of Levi's broader retail strategy, which focuses on ensuring our stores offer the best brand experience for the consumer, in the right location.

"We will continue monitoring the retail landscape in Belfast for future opportunities in the market."

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Victoria Square and Pepe Jeans did not respond.

Across the retail sector as a whole, footfall in Northern Ireland is on the decline as figures show a drop of 3.1% in December compared to 2.4% in November 2017, according to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.

During the period, high street and retail parks both saw a decline of 3.1%, while footfall in shopping centres fell by 3.2%.

The high streets also experienced a drop in visitors on the evening of New Year's Eve, suggesting the public chose to celebrate the dawn of 2018 in their own homes.

The figures from information company Springboard showed a 20.2% fall in footfall between 7pm and 12pm.

And there was also an 11.5% slump in visits to high streets across the province during the day.

It's not clear if the figures have been adjusted to reflect shorter shop trading hours as New Year's Eve was a Sunday.

Speaking at the time, Michelle Greeves, the manager of Victoria Square and chairperson of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, said she believed limited Sunday opening hours had an impact on daytime footfall on New Year's Eve.

"As New Year's Eve fell on a Sunday this year, trading hours were restricted to just five hours - 1pm to 6pm.

"In my opinion, this is what has contributed to the fall in footfall figures.

"Many of our members are reporting strong sales both pre and post-Christmas, to date."

Belfast Telegraph