'Disappointing' NI high street suffers sharpest footfall decline in UK

The Northern Ireland high street saw the sharpest decline in footfall out of all UK regions last month
Gareth McKeown

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

Shopper numbers in Northern Ireland fell across the board in June according to the Springboard industry figures, with retail parks, shopping centres and the high street reporting a slump.

Overall footfall in the north dropped by 2.6 per cent in June, slightly down on the 2.5 per cent fall recorded in June 2016. This figure is below the three-month average -0.5 per cent and the twelve-month average of -0.5 per cent.

The high street saw the fastest decline of all UK regions of 2.9 per cent, while an identical fall was seen at retail parks. A 1.9 per cent reduction was recorded in shopping centres and comes after two consecutive months of growth and a 1.4 per cent decline recorded in June 2016.

Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Aodhán Connolly said the latest figures were "disappointing" and called for greater political stability to ease the pressure.

“This is a disappointing performance in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK with our shopper footfall figures again being rock bottom of the league table."

"What we need now is renewed consumer confidence and greater certainty about the future, and some political leadership would assist. The EU has been making progress on its Brexit position and with formal negotiations started, there is no time to waste. As the only part of the UK that has a land border with the Eurozone, we need the Westminster Government to secure a fair Brexit for consumers in Northern Ireland by ensuring that ordinary shoppers aren't hit with the cost of unwanted new tariffs."

"We need certainty to allow our industry to continue to grow, invest and provide great value to shoppers here, and for that it is essential that we have an Executive and one that focusses on making Northern Ireland a better place to invest, to work and to live," he added.

The 2.6 per cent drop in footfall in Northern Ireland in June was in contrast to a 0.8 per cent rise recorded across the UK.

Marketing and insights director at Springboard, Diane Wehrle said Northern Ireland continued to experience "footfall volatility".

"The weather across the UK was far better than in June last year, which supported the increase in footfall during daytime hours and generally encourages consumers to visit bricks and mortar destinations, particularly external environments such as high streets. However, it appears that this was not the case in Northern Ireland where the long- term trend of footfall volatility in Northern Ireland predominates, with a drop in June following two consecutive months of growth in April and May."

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