FOR the third month running Northern Ireland saw the shallowest footfall decline of all UK regions in July, according to data from the British Retail Consortium and Sensormatic IQ.
And a retail chief insists "every penny must count" in the upcoming High Street Scheme, which will give up to 1.4 million people £100 each to spend on high streets rather than online.
While overall UK footfall dipped by 28 per cent (the figures are compared with 2019 and not 2020), the corresponding number for the north was 19.9 per cent.
This was followed by Wales at 25.8 per cent and Scotland at -27.1 per cent while England saw the deepest decline at -28.7 per cent.
But it only offers a small crumb of comfort for high streets, retail parks and shopping centres, who are still struggling to get back on track after a torrid 18 months.
NI Retail Consortium director Aodhán Connolly says the numbers represent a mixed picture for Northern Ireland’s high streets and retail destinations
He added: “It's welcome news that we have again led the way across the UK, with our footfall now more than eight percentage points above the UK average.
“But we remain almost a fifth down on pre-pandemic levels and this reduction in footfall makes things harder for already squeezed retailers.
“The launch of the High Street Stimulus Card could not come at a better time as it will give a welcome boost to high street retailers in towns and cities.
“It will create a virtuous circle of spending that supports our economy, boosts local commerce and gives our shoppers some needed retail therapy.
“And would encourage everyone who is eligible to register for the scheme and make every penny count!”
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant for Sensormatic Solutions, said: “With July’s wet weather dampening shoppers’ spirits, footfall has stayed subdued as consumers remained cautious.”