Shopper footfall grew in North during run up to election
Many retailers near the border have benefitted strongly from the weak pound
The retail sector is also facing immediate challenges that ‘are not being addressed’
More people in the North went shopping in the run up to the general election than anywhere else in the UK according to latest retail figures which show high streets, retail parks and shopping centres in Northern Ireland all enjoyed a surge in consumers.
New figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) and Springboard Research show shopper footfall grew in the North by 2.3 per cent during May, while in contrast it fell by 1 per cent across the UK in general.
Aodhán Connolly, director, NIRC, said the uplift in footfall was welcome and the North had experienced the fastest growth on the high street - 3.1 per cent - out of all the “ten nations and regions” surveyed across the UK.
According to various retail analysts many retailers particularly those located near the border, have benefitted strongly from the weak pound in recent months.
But Mr Connolly said while the overall increase in shopper footfall across Northern Ireland is positive the retail sector is also facing immediate challenges that are not being addressed.
“With Brexit looming large, no devolved budget and decisions on the future of the outdated and inequitable business rates system on hold, we need certainty to allow our industry to continue to grow, invest and provide great value to the shoppers of Northern Ireland.
“We are now reaching six months without having an Executive. While politically we have been stagnant, retail continues to surge ahead as a pillar of the Northern Ireland economy,” Mr Connolly said.
According to NIRC in the last six months its member companies have purchased nearly £1 billion of agri-food produce sourced in Northern Ireland and helped to support more than 80,000 jobs across the supply chain.
Mr Connolly said the retail sector cannot stand still and NIRC strongly believes neither should the North’s political institutions.
“Our industry sees the tangible benefits that devolved government here has delivered and we would urge all the political parties to make the most of the small window of opportunity that we have before the talks deadline on June 29th. We need an Executive and one that makes Northern Ireland a better place to invest, to work and to live.”