Belfast Telegraph

Heatwave sees spending surge

BY Michael McHugh

There is good news for the retail sector after new figures suggested last month's heatwave increased the number of shoppers here by 3% more than July 2012.

Business owners read the sweltering weather and improving economic outlook well by encouraging people to buy seasonal food for the barbecue and summer fashion, the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said. Aodhan Connolly, director of the consortium which represents large stores such as Tesco and Homebase, said: "It's a real relief to see shopper numbers are on the up again after the previous month's steep drop."

But shop vacancy rates remained almost the same at 18% – well above the UK average. They were 18.1% in April.

Mr Connolly added: "The vacancy figures offer less cause for cheer. Although marginally down on the previous quarter, Northern Ireland still retains the unenviable position of having the highest number of empty shops by quite a considerable margin."

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