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Lull in sales activity as shoppers take a break after Christmas rush

Belfast City Centre on New Years Day

Belfast City Centre on New Years Day

Even the most enthusiastic bargain hunters appeared to take a day off from the sales yesterday as many town centres were largely deserted.

Despite the discounting season being well under way, a significant number of stores remained closed – while those that did open for business appeared to have had a quiet day.

In Belfast, many of the larger shops such as Marks and Spencer were closed all day and the miserable weather was a factor in keeping potential customers at home.

Dungannon in Co Tyrone was also reported to be extremely quiet as was Lisburn in Co Antrim.

The lull comes after many retailers reported bumper crowds of pre-Christmas shoppers and buoyant sales figures.

Paul McMahon, centre director at CastleCourt Shopping Centre in Belfast, said: “Following a strong pre-Christmas sales period the traditional Boxing Day and New Years sales are now in full flow.

“This has attracted increased numbers of shoppers keen to make the most of discounts on a wide range of goods and has seen footfall numbers up compared to the same sales period last year.”

Mr McMahon added: “With sales set to continue and further discounts expected from many retailers, footfall figures are likely to remain strong giving stores a positive start to 2014.”

Last week the popular Victoria Square shopping centre reported December 23 as its busiest day’s trading since it opened in March 2008.

Centre manager Michelle Jackson described the number of shoppers as “absolutely phenomenal”.

“The town is really, really strong, really buzzing, and lots of queues and lots of shopping bags.” Ms Jackson said the number of shoppers remained high despite the rise in internet trading, and added: “It’s been a very good month for us.”

Fewer shops go into administration in 2013

The number of retailers going into administration during 2013 fell by six per cent compared to the year before – though there was an upturn during the final quarter of the year.

Research from Deloitte found 183 UK retailers entered administration over the 12 months compared with 194 in 2012.

High street firms were thought to be benefiting from being left standing after the collapse of rivals.

But recent months saw an increase of 11 per cent compared to the previous fourth quarter.

Lee Manning of Deloitte said: “The high street has undergone a re-balancing, and this is what is being reflected by these figures.”

 

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