North reports lowest footfall in UK for fourth consecutive month

For the fourth consecutive month Northern Ireland has reported the lowest footfall out of any UK region according to the latest Springboard figures
Gareth McKeown

FOR the fourth consecutive month Northern Ireland has reported the lowest footfall out of any UK region.

The latest Springboard figures show that footfall declined in the north by a further 4.3 per cent in September, compared to a 2 per cent decline in August and significantly above the average three month decrease of 2.9 per cent.

The high street and retail parks continued on a negative trajectory, each reporting a sharp decline of 6.1 per cent - the highest in the UK. There was, however some positive growth recorded in shopping centres, which saw a 0.9 per cent jump over the month, the first foray out of negative territory since May. The latest industry figures cover the five weeks between August 27 and September 30.

Northern Ireland Retail Consortium director Aodhán Connolly said September's footfall figures have a disappointing sense of "unwelcome déjà vu".

"The simple fact is that it is becoming harder and harder to get the Northern Ireland consumer to spend not only their hard earned money, but their time in retail destinations," he said.

"There's an urgent need to stall the growing number of retail locations that are falling further behind the rest of the UK, by attracting shoppers to retail destinations with the right mix of products, experience and convenience. But this is where the conundrum lies for retailers: the growing cost of doing business in Northern Ireland leaves little to no wiggle room for investment in their store proposition."

Mr Connolly further re-iterated calls for the Stormont Executive to return.

"We need certainty on a number of business-facing policies in order to allow our industry to invest and provide great value to shoppers. Quite simply we need our Executive back to work."

Marketing and insights director for Springboard, Diane Wehrle added:

"Retail sales rose in September due to inflation, but the accelerating decline in footfall is a strong indicator of consumers railing back spending. Much is often made about the impact of weather, but with similar weather conditions to September 2016, this cannot be put forward as a driver. Aggressive early season sales indicate retailers are spooked, and they will be on edge with the six week countdown now on to the start of the festive shopping season."

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