NI footfall grows to highest levels in the UK

The north's high street saw the largest growth in footfall out of all UK regions last month according to Springboard
Gareth McKeown

THE north's high street saw the largest growth in footfall out of all UK regions last month according to the latest retail figures.

Footfall grew by 2.3 per cent in Northern Ireland in May in comparison to the same period last year - the fastest growth recorded since December 2016.

The latest Springboard figures show an uplift in footfall in the north with increases reported on the retail parks and in shopping centres and the high street, with the latter reporting a 3.1 per cent jump - the strongest growth of all ten nations and regions across the UK.

This month's overall footfall figure was well above the three-month average of -0.7 per cent and the twelve-month average of -0.5 per cent.

In the UK as a whole a one per cent drop in footfall was reported, with a two per cent fall on the high street last month. The drop in footfall was mirrored by a drop of 3.7 per cent in UK sales in May.

Northern Ireland Retail Consortium director Aodhán Connolly said the local uplift in footfall is welcome in a period of political and economic uncertainty.

"We are now reaching six months without having an Executive. While politically we have been stagnant, retail continues to surge ahead as a pillar of the Northern Ireland economy. In those six months our members have bought almost £1 billion of Northern Ireland agri-food produce, sustained over 80,000 jobs and many more across our supply chain, and our 1.8 million consumers have made over 250 million transactions. Quite simply retail doesn't stand still and neither should our political institutions."

"Our industry sees the tangible benefits that devolved government here has delivered and we would urge all the political parties to make the most of the small window of opportunity that we have before the talks deadline on 29 June. We need an Executive and one that makes Northern Ireland a better place to invest, to work and to live," he added.

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said the Northern Ireland figures are positive, but warned of future fluctuation.

"This is the second consecutive month with an increase, and the enduring characteristic of footfall volatility in Northern Ireland's retail landscape suggests that footfall will dip again in the next month or so," she said.

"Whilst customer volumes continued to increase in Northern Ireland during May, the restraint being shown by shoppers across the UK is starting to show here too, with a slowing of growth in Northern Ireland's high street footfall post 5pm to 3.9 per cent in May from 8.4 per cent in May 2016. This suggests fewer shoppers opted to stay longer and eat out after their shopping trips; a concern for retail locations that have focussed on expanding their food offer to grow shopper dwell time."


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