Despite gloom and doom in the retail sector over issues such as rates and online shoping, Ballymena is bucking the trend according to figures analysing trade in the town.
Figures released by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council from show that there has been a steady growth in footfall over the last three months compared to the same period last year.
The data, supplied by the retail intelligence company Springboard, represents a considerable increase in footfall and is all the more remarkable given that the figures for Northern Ireland, and the UK as a whole, have fallen.
As the town launches its Christmas campaign, the Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) has also invested substantially in winter lighting throughout the town.
The BID, which represents the many retailers and businesses in the town centre, is also pleased that the quarterly vacancy report for retail premises shows that the rate has remained fairly static for the last twelve months, with new businesses opening to replace those that have closed.
“The BID is delighted to hear that footfall has seen a steady growth this past three months and that the vacancy rate is static,” said BID manager Alison Moore.
“We’ve just had a fantastic discount day with many retailers reporting their best discount day yet and the statistics showed that footfall was up some 23% for that day alone.
“The BID has worked hard to not only promote the town but invest in the town – the winter lights are an example of that. So is the new Christmas advert, Ballymena – The Martian and The Pigeon, which can be seen on Facebook and other platforms. It is doing considerably well with over 90,000 views online currently.
“The BID is delighted that the investment in the town centre seems to be paying off and we are now looking forward to the next few weeks of a run up to Christmas. Fingers crossed that this momentum will hold.”