Shopper numbers in North increase
Survey shows a 2.6 per cent rise in numbers going into shops
Shoppers in Northern Ireland have gained renewed confidence with more people venturing into stores, it was revealed.
A 2.6 per cent increase in the number passing through compared to a year earlier represented a significant improvement, an organisation representing large retailers said.
“There are signs here that after a very disappointing December and January, shoppers are now starting to gain a renewed confidence,” he said.
He said this was partly due to the Backin’ Belfast campaign, which he dubbed a huge success, as well as the weeks of peace following loyalist protests in Belfast.
“Northern Ireland has a great retail mix with something different to offer in each of our towns and cities,” he said.
“However we must not be complacent with what is happening in the high street. We look forward to working with government at all levels in the coming months to look at issues as diverse as car parking, rates, regeneration and planning.”
In February shopper numbers in Northern Ireland were 2.6 per cent higher than a year ago, up from the 0.4 per cent rise in January.
These figures are considerably better than the whole of the UK, where numbers were up 0.8 per cent.
Business leaders have complained that they lost millions in trade because the Union flag demonstrations deterred people from coming into the city.
Recently the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) estimated that the flag protests had cost Belfast businesses up to £15 million (€17 million) in lost revenue.
Parts of the centre were left deserted as shoppers and commuters hurried home to avoid traffic gridlock and riots.
In response, the Backin’ Belfast campaign was launched to encourage more people to shop and socialise in central Belfast.