Business

Shoppers desert high street in March - but Easter windfall likely

Retailers expect to see a recovery in shopping numbers over Easter
Gary McDonald Business Editor

SHOPPERS who've deserted Northern Ireland's high streets and shopping centres in March are expected to fill their baskets again over Easter.

Last month saw a 3.7 per cent decline in retail footfall, according to footfall monitoring firm Springboard.

But the Easter weekend - easily the biggest till-ringer for retailers since Christmas - is likely to bring a huge turnaround, with a forecast footfall increase of 5.4 per cent.

Springboard Insights director Diane Wehrle says: “Last year Easter took place on March 25, a few days in advance of national payday for many shoppers.

"And this, combined with poor weather conditions, impacted footfall, which declined across all retail destinations from Easter Saturday onwards.

“But mild spring weather is forecast for this Easter, which falls after the national payday, and this strongly indicates that more shoppers will visit retail destinations over the weekend compared with last year.

She added: “The key drivers of consumer spend, confidence and inflation, have worsened over the first quarter of this year compared to last, which is likely to be constraining shoppers' willingness to spend on retail goods.

"And this, together with the increasing importance of leisure and hospitality trips, is likely to bring about uplifts in spend in food and beverage outlets.”

Online shopping specialists PCA Predict forecast online transactions will increase by an average of 17 per cent over the three Easter trading days, with the greatest hike coming on Easter Monday.

Chris Harle of PCA Predict says: “Traditionally Bank Holiday Monday is one of the busiest days of the year for online shopping, and we are expecting this year to be no different.

“We are expecting to see online transactions via mobile reaching an estimated 49 per cent over Easter weekend - up 10 per cent on the same time last year as shoppers become more accustomed to shopping on their mobile devices.”

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