YET another call has gone out from a business organisation for the Stormont Executive to be restored to support consumers through the cost-of-living crisis.
It comes from Kerry Curran, the newly-appointed director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, who was releasing her first set of footfall figures covering the four weeks from May 1 to 28.
Using Sensormatic IQ data, they showed that footfall in the north decreased by 12.9 per cent (Yo3Y), which was 1.2 percentage points worse than April It is slightly worse than the UK average decline of 12.5 per cent.
Shopping centre footfall was down 12.8 per cent, worse than the April figure of 12.4 per cent, while the comparable figure for Belfast city was 13.6 per cent.
Ms Curran, who has taken over the NIRC role from Aodhan Connolly having spent the last five years in a directorship role with IntertradeIreland focusing on Brexit issues, said: “Concerns over rising cost of living and uncertainty in the economic outlook continue to be reflected in May's lower shopper levels.
“The 12.9 per cent decline on pre-pandemic figures from 2019 is broadly in line with the rest of the UK, which has shown shoppers slow to return to in-store shopping experiences.
“But shopping centres in Northern Ireland are performing well in comparison to the UK, with footfall down 12.8 per cent compared to a 26.7 per cent decline in the UK, placing us at the top of the table for shopping centre footfall recovery.”
She added: “Hopefully June sees further return of shoppers to our high streets and shopping centres.
“But it's essential that an Executive is in place to take actions to support consumers through the cost-of-living crisis and to help the retail industry continue its slow recovery.”
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant for Sensormatic Solutions, said: “With households already starting to feel the pinch of the rising cost-of-living and growing inflationary pressures, retailers are already seeing the impact it can have on the footfall recovery.
“As they look ahead to June, retailers will be hoping that high streets will be rallied by the Jubilee weekend celebrations and that the event will prompt ambient shopper traffic and retail spend.”