Shopper footfall declines by over 5 per cent during May in Northern Ireland
One of every six shops on high streets in the North is now empty, says NIRC director
“The Stormont stalemate is strangling the retail industry; with no minister in place to deliver rates reform . . ,” says Aodhán Connolly, director of NIRC. Photograph: Paul Faith/Getty Images
Chilly weather during May saw shoppers desert high streets across the North as footfall figures fell by more than 6 per cent, the worst shopper turnout figures in the UK, latest research shows.
Overall shopper footfall figures fell by 5.3 per cent in Northern Ireland in the four weeks to May 25th, which was the worst drop in nearly two years.
High streets in the North, which have been struggling with the collapse of major retailers and the growing trend by banks to reduce their branches, suffered the worst decline last month as shopper footfall shrunk by 6.1 per cent.
But even shopping centres in Northern Ireland were not immune from the downturn as shopper turnout slumped by 2.8 per cent according to the latest Footfall and Vacancies Monitor report by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC)and industry analyst Springboard.
Aodhán Connolly, director of NIRC, said one out of every six shops on high streets in the North is now empty and Northern Ireland is suffering because there is no Executive government in place.
“This is a significant decline and the worst that we have seen in two years. Particularly worrying is the fall of over six percent in footfall on our high streets
“The Stormont stalemate is strangling the retail industry; with no minister in place to deliver rates reform, our poundage is the highest across the UK by some margin.
“Retail is only 12 per cent of the economy but pays a quarter of all business rates. We have no minister to ensure more protection for our shopworkers, as is proposed in Great Britain. And we have no minister to bring stakeholders together to deliver a vision of future high streets, which will look very different to the way they are now,” Mr Connolly said.