Belfast’s traditional Twelfth parade has already been hailed as a great success and yesterday traders in the city centre also gave the event a thumbs-up as shoppers turned out in greater numbers than before.
In contrast to the recent past, the calm throughout the year so far and particularly in the run-up to the marching season seems to have paid dividends as visitors to the city also took time to visit the city centre shops, boosting retail revenues.
At Victoria Square manager Michelle Greaves said visitor numbers were up by almost a third.
“It’s a Saturday versus a Friday last year but, if we compare the Twelfth to the Twelfth, this is the fifth year that we have opened and this year delivered the highest footfall over that period.
“On the Saturday we saw a growth of 31 per cent up on last year,” she said.
“We are obviously driven to drive our sales and to try and give the best service that we can and so we were very, very pleased to see so many of our customers with Victoria Square as we are every day.
“I think that you can say there are green shoots in terms of the economic climate in Northern Ireland improving and we again are very, very pleased to see that.”
However, while an anonymous spokesman for one leading store agreed that the trend was upward, he said there was still a long way to go.
“Without giving any figures, it was slightly more encouraging than the year before with a lot more people out and a lot more footfall in the shop versus last year,” he said.
“Like for like, year on year, two years ago was very, very quiet so it’s a comparison from a very low base but it has improved.”