Northern Ireland was the only region of the UK to see a rise in retail footfall in December as the province enjoyed its third consecutive month of growth.
The findings come in the latest Springboard footfall monitor released by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) and show that while the hight street saw a rise of 4.1%, shopping centres endured a further decline of 3.7% per cent, a deeper decline compared to the previous year when it fell by 3.2 per cent.
“This news is a great boost for retailers to start 2019 with a full quarter of growth, a rise in footfall in seven of the past twelve months and we are the only part of the UK to see growth in December, “ said NIRC director Aodhán Connolly.
“While December was a slow starting month, NI shoppers really made the most of the bargains on offer in the last days before Christmas especially in Belfast which saw some spectacular results.
However, he warned that the year ahead brought challenges to the sector that required political support.
“These are strong results to end 2018 but for us to have a successful 2019 we need mission critical decisions to be made on issues such as business rates and the Apprenticeship Levy,” he said.
“We are falling behind the rest of the UK because we have no Assembly or Executive which is making Northern Ireland less competitive now and for future investment.
“Northern Ireland would be a better place for business in 2019 if it had an Executive to take the bold decisions needed to allow us to sustain and grow.”
Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director | Springboard said: “The rise in high street footfall in Northern Ireland of +4.1% in December is exceptionally positive given the drop of -2.1% in high street footfall across the UK, however, the decline of -3.7% in shopping centres is in line with the -3.8% drop across the UK.