NI retail footfall down despite influx of shoppers from South

Decline in shopper numbers in North twice the rate experienced in rest of the UK

The Victoria Shopping Center Belfast. Photograph: David Sleator

The Victoria Shopping Center Belfast. Photograph: David Sleator

 

Retailers in the North are continuing to enjoy a steady influx of “astute shoppers” from the Republic, latest industry research suggests. However, this has failed to halt another decline in overall shopper footfall numbers, which slumped in August.

The latest Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC)/ Springboard Footfall and Vacancies monitor shows footfall has fallen for three consecutive months in the North on the high street, in retail parks and shopping centres.

Although shopper footfall numbers declined in general across the UK, Northern Ireland suffered more than double the 1.2 per cent drop recorded in the UK latest figures show.

One of the reasons why there has been a lack of shoppers out spending in stores, according to the latest report, is because there has been a big rise in online shopping – in terms of both value and volume.

Online sales values according to NIRC and Springboard rose by 11 per cent, the biggest rise this year.

Aodhán Connolly, NIRC director, said the underwhelming local performance highlighted the ongoing challenges that the retail sector in the North faces – with a battle to tempt shoppers back at the top of the list.

“We also need renewed consumer confidence and greater certainty which would flow from the restoration of political leadership and devolved government here in Northern Ireland.

“As the only part of the UK that has a land border with the EU, we also need Westminster to secure a fair Brexit for consumers in Northern Ireland by ensuring that ordinary shoppers aren’t hit with the cost of unwanted new tariffs.” Mr Connolly said.