North the only region in UK where number out shopping rose in August

Latest footfall statistics show that footfall in North overall grew by modest 0.5 per cent

Castle Court, Belfast. NIRC director Aodhán Connolly says the contribution from consumers in the Republic who go North for shopping trips or who buy while on holiday there is a key component of the footfall figures.

Castle Court, Belfast. NIRC director Aodhán Connolly says the contribution from consumers in the Republic who go North for shopping trips or who buy while on holiday there is a key component of the footfall figures.

 

Sales to Southern consumers currently make up as much as 10 per cent of revenue for some Northern Ireland retailers, according to new statistics which show that the North was the only region across the UK where the number of people out shopping rose last month.

Latest footfall figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) show footfall in the North overall grew by a modest 0.5 per cent in August.

This was chiefly because the number of shoppers on both high street and retail parks increased by 1.4 per cent although this was off set with a sharp drop in consumers visiting shopper centres where daytime footfall slumped by nearly 9 per cent.

According to Aodhán Connolly, director of the NIRC, the contribution from consumers in the Republic who travel North for shopping trips or who make purchases while on holiday in Northern Ireland remains a key component of the latest footfall figures.

Mr Connolly said: “Currently southern shoppers are still making hay while the autumn sun shines and we are still seeing trips as far as Belfast and beyond to avail of the bargains in the North.”

Ongoing boost

But he has warned that because some Northern Ireland retailers continue to enjoy on an ongoing boost from Southern shoppers it means they could also be among the most vulnerable if current negotiations fail and a hard border is implemented on the island.

Mr Connolly believes that Brexit would have a greater impact on the retail industry and consumers in the North than anywhere else in the UK and it is crucial that terms must be agreed in advance that are “mutually beneficial”.

‘Huge concerns’

“There are some huge concerns about what will happen after March 19th. While we cannot sustain or grow our industry on currency fluctuations, for some retailers southern shoppers are a core component of their revenue with some as much as 10 per cent of total Northern Ireland sales.

“We have many key concerns around Brexit even up to the integrity of supply chains for food and medicines but accessibility for southern consumers features high on that list,” he said.