Footfall and vacancy rates improve
NORTHERN Ireland has seen the best footfall performance in more than a year, according to the latest figures.
The number of shoppers taking to high streets and shopping centres across the north rose by 2.1 per cent in October compared to the same month in 2014.
The research by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) and Springboard also found that the north's vacancy rate dropped 16.3 per cent - although this is still high compared to a 9.1 per cent UK average.
NIRC director Aodhán Connolly said: “Shopper footfall in Northern Ireland rose in October after a wilt in September and we have seen the best footfall performance in Northern Ireland since August 2014. Added to this we have witnessed a one percentage point drop in our vacancy rate across Northern Ireland which is extremely welcome news.
"The next few weeks are crucial in our overall retail year as well as in our plans for 2016. We're expecting particularly strong online sales, but purchases from ‘bricks and mortar’ stores will continue to be crucial."
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard added: "“The positive footfall result is evidence that October is fast becoming an importance ‘look and compare’ month for shoppers ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which offers consumers opportunities to capture bargains prior to Christmas.
"Northern Ireland’s vacancy rate improved by 1 per cent to 16.3 per cent in October but remains persistently high – far higher than the UK rate of 9.1 per cent. It is clearly not benefiting from the growth of leisure and the food and beverage sectors, which is offsetting the streamlining of retail networks coming about through the growth of multi-channel shopping, and has had positive results elsewhere in the UK."