Sunshine tempts Northern Irish shoppers back out

Footfall figures up 6.2% in June, the fastest rate of growth in four years

Northern Ireland’s high street attracted the majority of the shoppers. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Northern Ireland’s high street attracted the majority of the shoppers. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

 

More people went shopping in the sunshine across the North last month than at any other time in the past four years, new figures show.

Shopper footfall in towns and shopping centres in Northern Ireland grew by 6.2 per cent – the fastest rate of growth since 2014, according to the latest Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC)/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.

In general, shopper figures jumped 3.6 per cent in June across the North, in stark contrast to the UK overall, where footfall declined for the seventh consecutive month.

While the high street attracted the majority of shoppers, retail parks also performed strongly, but shopping centres failed to have the same pulling power with footfall figures showing a 4.4 per cent slump.

According to Aodhán Connolly, director of the NIRC, the latest shopper statistics are a “small tonic for retailers”.

“It is particularly encouraging to see the high street having its best footfall result in four years. Usually we would be somewhat cautious about highlighting the impact of the weather being a factor in our footfall but Northern Irish consumers are literally buying as the sun shines.

“However just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one set of good results is not a portent to retail revival,” Mr Connolly warned.

Confidence bounce

He said if Northern Ireland retailers are to capitalise on the bounce in consumer confidence and improved spending then the North needs to “make our retail areas a destination”.

“We need to work with the hospitality and leisure industry so that Northern Irish consumers not only want to spend their hard-earned money but their time,” Mr Connolly added.

According to Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director with Springboard, there has been a definite shift among Northern Irish shoppers towards “leisure-based trips”.

“Many high streets have capitalised on this trend more swiftly than shopping centres, demonstrated by a rise of 5.2 per cent in daytime footfall in Northern Ireland’s high streets and 7.7 per cent between 5pm and 8pm,” she said.