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Power cut costs retailers thousands in lost sales

Shoppers are turned away from Easons in Donegall Place as a power cut shuts down spending. Picture by Mal McCann
Paul Ainsworth

BELFAST city centre traders have lost tens of thousands of pounds in revenue as a power cut forced stores to shut in the city's prime shopping area.

A faulty underground cable was blamed for the loss of electricity at 240 city centre properties yesterday, including dozens of retails giants such as Boots, Next, the Disney Store and Easons.

The loss of power shortly after 1pm also left customers trapped in a lift at Donegall Place clothes outlet Zara and a nearby building on Castle Street.

Firefighters rescued two adults and two children from the elevator in Zara, while the individual trapped in the Castle Street property escaped before fire crews arrived.

The power cut cost retailers thousands in lost till sales, store staff warned, as frustrated shoppers were turned away from the popular outlets.

General manager of Next’s Donegall Place store, Blaine Devine, said: “This could not have happened at a worse time, as we are coming out of the end-of-season sales.

“This is a crucial period for sales, as there is still plenty of footfall and a lot of people are still keen on spending. This will cost us thousands of pounds.”

Across the road at shoe store Clarkes, manager Amy McConnell said: “Trade interrupted in this way will result in the loss of a few thousand, because of the time of year. It’s not ideal.”

Among the shops, pubs and restaurants affected, was the Fountain Bar on Fountain Street, and the City Picnic burger bar, which according to staff would have lost out on around £500 in sales.

An NIE spokeswoman said emergency teams were able to restore power to all properties by 2.24pm.

“A fault in an underground electricity cable left around 240 customers in Belfast City Centre without electricity on Wednesday lunchtime. NIE Networks’ emergency teams responded immediately restoring power to all but 33 properties within an hour," as spokeswoman said.

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