Retail footfall across the province rose by 2.5% in August but the sector is still in need of real support from the Executive its representative body has claimed.
“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,” said Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.
“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.
“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.
“Our members employ over 55,000 people in Northern Ireland and 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.
“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 of Springboard said: “Compared with a rise in footfall across the UK of just +0.1%, an increase of +2.5% in Northern Ireland is heartening news for retailers; particularly as it is the second month in a row in which footfall has been in positive territory.
“With an average rise of +1% over the four months from May, emanating from increases in three of the four months, it is much more favourable position for Northern Ireland’s retail destinations than in the same four months of 2015 when the average stood at -2.7%.”