NI retail footfall on five-month run of growth

Northern Ireland’s retail sector has seen growth for five consecutive months and is set to benefit from a less harsh rates burden than had been feared a body representing the indusry has claimed.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 5:00 am
NIRC director Aodhán Connolly

Despite the gloom across the wider economy and the difficulties facing the fashion sector in particular, the latest figures released by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) shows the province once again outperformed the rest of the UK.

“This means that we have seen growth for five consecutive months and eight of the past twelve months,” said NIRC director Aodhán Connolly.

“And there was more good news recently with a rise in the regional business rate of only 2% compared to the 10% that had been mooted.”

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Covering the period from January 27 to February 23 the statistics show that footfall in Northern Ireland continued to grow by 0.2%, with business on the high street growing 0.6% footfall growth on the high street.

Shopping centre footfall fell by 1.1%, a lesser decline on a year ago when it declined by 4.1%.

“While the rest of the UK saw a significant decline, it is great news that yet again Northern Ireland has bucked the negative trend and is the only region of the UK to see growth,” said Mr Connolly.

“ While the inflation rate rise in business rates is welcome, it does not solve the fundamental problem that our business rates taxation system in Northern Ireland is not fit for purpose.

“We need change and we need it now to ensure that NI is a competitive place to do business in a global market place.

“Added to that, we have only a couple of short weeks before we leave the EU and the uncertainty does not help business and definitely does not support the hard pressed NI households.

“We need certainty, we need progress and most of all we need a deal.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director of analysts Springboard said

“The +0.2% rise in Northern Ireland’s footfall in February is virtually on par with February 2018 when footfall rose by +0.3%, but of more significance is the fact that February represented the fifth consecutive month in which footfall has increased.”