Call for office workers' return as further footfall drop adds to retail woes

Shoppers still aren't returning in numbers, leading to a further decline in footfall, according to latest data
Gary McDonald Business Editor

TOWNS, cities and shopping destinations in the north are crying out for office workers to be back at their desks and able to drift out for food-on-the-go, clothes and other essentials which help keep tills ticking over, according to retail chief Aodhan Connolly.

The NI Retail Consortium director was responding to Sensormatic IQ footfall data covering the five weeks to July 3.

It revealed that there was a fall again in the numbers of people out spending, albeit that the north saw the shallowest decline in footfall of any UK region.

Footfall fell by 20.6 per cent in June (Yo2Y), a 5.7 percentage point decrease from May.

But in Belfast, that decline was even greater at 22.3 per cent, which in turn was 2 per cent worse than May

Shopping centre footfall was down 16.9 per cent

“Although Northern Ireland still leads the pack in footfall bounce back across the UK, we are still 5 percentage points worse than last month and 20 percentage points down on the last comparable year which was 2019," Mr Connolly said.

“This shows that there is still much to do and that our towns, cities and shopping destinations are still feeling the pinch of workers not being back in the office and the spend that generates.

“Added to that we have seen increased costs due to Covid continue as well as a squeeze coming from global shipping and commodity prices which will particularly affect non-food items.

“This is compounded on the food front, as we still are no closer to agreeing a trusted trader scheme between the EU and the UK which we need to keep choice and affordability for Northern Ireland households."

He added: “We need the government and the EU to work together to deliver this scheme with urgency and live up to their commitments to the people of Northern Ireland."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access