The Executive has the power to make Northern Ireland a more competitive place to do business and they should take the opportunity to exercise it the head of a retail lobby group has claimed.
Speaking as figures for September showed that retail footfall fell back by 3.3% in September from a 2.5% increase for August, Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said the situation could be worse but aso much better.
“Though this is the fourth time this year that Northern Ireland’s footfall figures have beaten the national UK average, we cannot be complacent about how the retail industry is faring in Northern Ireland.
“Our number one priority is the reform of Business Rates where our industry pays over 22% of the total business rates burden while being only 12% of the economy here.”
With NIRC members employing more than over 55,000 people across the province, he said many more jobs are created and sustained through the supply chain.
“For us to continue to invest, employ and play our integral part in the NI economy and communities, business rates need to be equitable,” he said.
“Our message to the Minister for Finance and the Executive is simple. We need a fair deal for retail.”
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard said: “The headline result for Northern Ireland shows a worsening of footfall in September from August, but unlike the UK as a whole, the underlying trend in Northern Ireland is that shopping centres are faring better than high streets in terms of shopper numbers.
Footfall in both destination types in Northern Ireland has decreased over the year to date, but by only -0.6 per cent in shopping centres compared with -1.3 per cent in high streets.”