Province retail vacancy rises slightly in April

NIRC director Aodhan Connolly
NIRC director Aodhan Connolly

Retail footfall in Northern Ireland stayed steady in April but the amount of vacant retail space rose slightly during the month a national survey claims.

According to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium/Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor, footfall numbers were unchanged at 1.2%, making the province one of four regions with footfall above the UK average.

However the vacancy rate rose marginally to 16.4 per cent from 16.3 per cent in the previous quarter

NIRC director Aodhán Connolly said: “Something of a mixed bag, these figures are good in part.

“Footfall in Northern Ireland’s shopping destinations has sprouted for a third successive month. Indeed, shopper footfall has shown positive growth in Northern Ireland for eight of the last 12 months, outshining the rest of the UK, and at a time when the popularity of online retailing has never been greater.

“Less encouraging though is the very slight rise in the shop vacancy rate in our town centres. Vacancies had been falling quite consistently over this past 2 years, but the vacancy rate in Northern Ireland now lies 6.2 per cent above the UK as a whole.

Springboard director Diane Wehrle said: “For the third month in a row footfall in Northern Ireland’s retail destinations increased, with the rise of 1.2 per cent comparing favourably to the drop of 0.8 per cent across the UK. The rise in overall footfall was driven by an uplift in activity in high streets, where footfall rose by 4.7 per cent compared with a drop of -0.1 per cent across the UK.