Demand for retail withers despite surge in footfall during reopening rush

Northern Ireland's high streets saw footfall return following the June 12 reopening - but it was only briefly
Gary McDonald Business Editor

SHOPPERS came back in their droves to Northern Ireland's high streets and retail parks last month during the reopening of non-essential stores.

But it was a brief flirtation, and the numbers withered away just as quickly as they'd arrived, according to new figures from analysts Springboard.

It said footfall in Northern Ireland in June was around half of that last month, but this was an improvement on the year on year decline in May of 73.6 per cent in high streets and 79.7 per cent in shopping centres.

A key factor in the improvement was the reopening of non-essential retailers on June 12, and in that week footfall rose in high streets by 24.7 per cent and then by 37 per cent in the following week.

But in the subsequent week footfall slowed to 4 per cent week on week, with long queues coupled with a restricted shopping experience due to social distancing likely to have been contributing factors.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: "The pent up anticipation to shop after more than three months of closure led to an instant increase in footfall in high streets, but then there was a sudden drop off.

"This is concerning for the economic recovery path of bricks and mortar retail, who are heavily reliant on

customer experience."

She added: "The fact that much of the workforce continues to work from home, tourists and many students are

absent, as well as the government urging consumers to only use public transport for essential travel, means that

footfall and therefore sales continue to be compromised.”

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