Business

Northern Ireland shopper footfall declines dramatically in wake of Brexit vote

Shopper footfall fell by 7.6 per cent in the week following the EU referendum

The number of people taking to the high streets, shopping centres and retail parks took a dip last month in the wake of the vote for the UK to leave the EU.

Footfall decreased 2.5 per cent in June compared to the same month last year.

And in the week after the Brexit decision alone, the figure fell by 7.6 per cent.

It followed a rise in shopper numbers in May, according to the data from Springboard and the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.

The figures however were better than the UK as a whole which saw footfall drop 2.7 per cent.

Some analysts have predicted consumer confidence will likely take a hit from the Brexit vote.

But Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said it was "too early to say with certainty what lasting impact the Brexit vote will have on consumer and business confidence in Northern Ireland, however what is clear is that the devolved administration ought to re-double its efforts to keep down the cost of living and the cost of doing business".

"Retailers and other firms are already having to grapple with a hotchpotch of government-imposed cost rises such as the new Apprenticeship Levy, the national living wage, higher employer pension contributions, and business rates which have been ratcheted up year after year with little regard to trading or economic conditions," he added.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, added: "With such major political and economic news in June, it is unsurprising that the UK as a whole had the poorest monthly result for more than two years, and a marked worsening of performance since May when footfall rose slightly by 0.3 per cent."

"Most significant is the decline in out of town footfall across the UK for the first month since December 2013. These results are shaped by one dominant theme and tell a story of two halves - pre and post EU Referendum - a political and economic storm against a backdrop of rain downpours and generally inclement weather throughout the whole month.

“Although footfall worsened leading up to the referendum across the UK, in Northern Ireland it improved from a low of -7.6 per cent in the second week of the month to -1.8 per cent in the week of the referendum. Post referendum week however, footfall fell markedly by 7.3 per cent.

“In the last three weeks of the month high street footfall in Northern Ireland dropped by -5.1 per cent compared with just -2.2 per cent last year. Whilst poor weather will explain some of this performance, it is more likely consumers held off spending in the immediate aftermath - the issue for retailers is how quickly shoppers will return to their usual behavioural patterns.”

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