Apprentice Boys day boost for Derry traders
Retailers in Londonderry have reported successful trading during a major loyalist parade on a day that was traditionally written off for business.
The first Saturday in December marks the annual Shutting of the Gates ceremony by the Apprentice Boys of Derry, with thousands of spectators.
For years the majority of shop owners pulled down their shutters as customers stayed at home.
However, negotiations between the Apprentice Boys, the business community and residents groups has seen a reversal of fortunes – with shop owners reporting a brisk day's trade on Saturday.
City centre manager Jim Roddy said the image portrayed by the march was encouraging.
He said: "I have managed to speak to a lot of the traders, and with the exception of one the rest reported trade well up on previous years, and in fact it was like a normal Saturday in December.
"This is a far cry from the years when retailers felt they could not take the chance to open and is due to a lot of hard work from all parties."
Apprentice Boys governor Jim Brownlee also hailed the success of the event, which attracted a record number of spectators and bands.
He said: "We have always said the traders had nothing to fear from the parade so we are very pleased that so many did decide to open and saw the benefits.
"This was also an exceptional day for us in that the number taking part and the number who came to watch were both up significantly.
"We always encourage people who come primarily to see the parade to take the time to do some shopping as well."